Sachin just another batsman: Siddle
Duncan Fletcher's Australia jinx continues
Aus tour make-or-break case for Gautam Gambhir
Dravid slips in ICC Test rankings
India holding world to ransom on DRS: Harper
Expect a fast track: SCG curator
Punjab Police lift trophy
Ferguson wary of Tottenham title bid
Djokovic downs Federer in Abu Dhabi exhibition
Melbourne, December 30
"Sachin is a big scalp and to get him out is nice. There's a lot more cricket to be played and hopefully I can get him again and keep winning Tests," revealed Siddle.
Tendulkar looked in ominous touch in both the innings of the first Test, scoring 73 and 32, but Siddle struck him down each time as Australia thrashed India by 122 runs to take 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series.
"There's no big secret or plan. Both the dismissals were different. He was bowled in the first innings and caught off a slider in the second. A few good balls before that possibly put pressure on him," he said.
The 27-year-old pacer, who claimed six wickets in the match and scored a vital 41 in the first innings, denied that he tries extra hard when the batsman at the opposite end is Tendulkar.
"He is just another batsman. Be it openers or number 11, you just like to get wicket all the time. This time it was me, next time it could be little Patto (Pattinson) or (Nathan) Lyon," he insisted.
Siddle's first wicket incidentally was also of Tendulkar, back in 2008 and he now has three dismissals of the champion batsman to his name.
Even the spin legend Shane Warne could not do any better during his career.
Siddle said he remembers the second evening when Tendulkar walked out to take the first strike and upper cut his first delivery over slips for a six.
"It was the edge obviously. Jokes apart, it was a good stroke, you can't do much about it. It's a good shot he played, someday he could also edge it to wicketkeeper and on his day carry it over fence for six," he said.
The sturdy Victorian fast bowler needs just three wickets to complete his 100 in Tests. His 97 wickets have come from 28 Tests at an average of 30.78 with four five-wicket hauls.
He also has a hat-trick to his name, against England at Brisbane, on his birthday last year. Siddle put down the success of Australia's bowling in recent times to the execution of plans that the bowlers are able to do in the middle as a unit.
"It's the pressure we build. You bowl a few short deliveries to build pressure and stop them moving their feet. It paid off but it can go either way. We need to stick together as a bowling unit and build up pressure."
In trying to build pressure, Siddle and Pattinson, in particular appear to go overtly aggressive but the former said everyone in the team knows where to draw the line.
"We are fired up and determined on the field. Like when Dravid was bowled off a no-ball, I was fired up. But we know how far we can go.
"We go out there and play hard and fair. It's just how it comes across. We look to get wickets all the time," he said.
Siddle believed his team had moved on from Hobart and is getting better as a unit. "We had a disappointment at Hobart. But we are going forward. Batters are also getting there. We are working as a unit. The group is upbeat and comfortable with each other. There's still plenty to come.
"Presently, I am feeling good, strong and healthy. I really had a lot of injuries in the past. The big onus is on me at the moment to try and do things right," he said.
Ben Hilfenhaus, meanwhile, heaped praises on Siddle, especially applauding the Tasmanian fast bowler's ability to build up pressure while running into the wind. "His consistency with his line and the pressure he builds from the other end is amazing. He bowled into the breeze throughout the match and build up pressure from other end."
Hilfenhaus picked up seven wickets from the match including a fiver in the first innings. He also made 19 and 14 from his two innings. The teams now head to Sydney where, in all probability, a good grassy wicket will be there to help the hosts yet again. Aussies, who have included fast bowler Ryan Harris in the 12, could even opt to play with four quick bowlers and drop off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
"The wicket has changed a bit and become better for the bowlers. But we still have to go out and do what we did here. We need to be patient, keep our lines. It has paid off for us in the last few months and we need to continue it. "He (Lyon) bowled well, he's an attacking bowler. The MCG track didn't help spinners at all. He could take 5-6 wickets in the next innings." — PTI
Melbourne, December 30
For all the praise and admiration the Zimbabwean gets in the cricketing world for his technical wisdom, his record in Australia is as abysmal as it gets. Fletcher, while he was coach of England and now India, has lost 10 of the 11 Tests he has been involved in Australia.
In 2002-03, when Fletcher brought over an England team to Australia, his team was drubbed 4-1. The 2005 visit Down Under was worse as the hosts wiped the floor clean with an English side by a 5-0 margin.
Fletcher's overseas record with India is similarly dismal. He began in West Indies where India won 1-0 but lost countless admirers for refusing to chase down 85 runs off 15 overs for victory, with seven wickets in hand, to win the final Test in Dominica.
The painful memories of England are too vivid when India were humiliated 4-0 by the hosts this summer and the one-day series was no better where another clean sweep was awaiting the tourists.
The loss in Melbourne makes it five successive losses for India in last five Tests and there isn't any sign that batsmen are any better at facing the swing deliveries than they were in England.
The batting camp to counter swing, ordered by Australia, was a clear signal that the tourists would be served with hostile batting conditions where seam and swing would be the king.
Tourists, in their wisdom, arrived early but were stationed in Canberra where the Manuka Oval pitch is closer to conditions back home than the grassy, lively pitches which are their fate in the Test series.
For all practical purposes, Fletcher is a coach without powers -- a widely different position than that of his Australian counterpart Mickey Arthur who is also one of the selectors.
For instance, India didn't do any practice on Friday nor would they do any on the last day of the year on Saturday in Sydney.
The 63-year-old, unlike former coach John Wright who once brought his Indian wards straight from the airport, virtually, to the nets at the SCG in 2003-04, isn't yet prepared to shake his boys out of their comfort zone.
Each to his own or each to his doom is presently the underlying theme with the Indians whereas they ought to be having a batting camp of their own in whatever time that is available before the Sydney Test. The batsmen need to feed off each other and work as a group if the lost ground at the MCG is to be recovered. — PTI
Melbourne, December 30
A fearless cricketer, usually adept at both front and backfoot, against pace and spin, Gambhir first stamped his presence in the Indian set-up with a one-day century - at Gabba in Brisbane - on these very shores four years ago.
He virtually took wings thereafter, striking three centuries and 1134 runs from eight Tests in 2008. He did even better in 2009 when he slammed four centuries from five Tests and averaged 90.88 from the year.
So impressive was the little lad from Delhi that his partner and senior Virender Sehwag was moved enough to term him the best opener of India since Sunil Gavaskar hung his boots in 1987.
"Gambhir is the only opener I have known who is at ease in any form of the game. Gavaskar was a great opener in Tests and one-dayers and Gambhir has adapted wonderfully to the Twenty20 format too. He is just too good," Sehwag had said. PTI
"Just see how he kept adapting. I can't think of anyone better than Gambhir in terms of technique, temperament and style. To me, he is the best opener India has had since Gavaskar," said Sehwag.
Rewards were swift to come as Gambhir shot up on the scales of being next captain and was the highest paid cricketer, worth Rs 11 crore, in this year's IPL.
Gambhir's dip in form was pushed into the background because he still was able to play a few innings of extreme significance - like the 93 and 64 he made at Newlands early this year.
His 97 in the World Cup finals made him the darling of Indian fans and his consistent failures somehow did not quite register in the eyes of the same fans or media.
However, with India consistently losing its foothold on foreign soil and Gambhir coming a cropper, the current tour could be a make-or-break one for the likeable young man.
Gambhir averaged 17.00 from the three Tests he played in England - albeit there was a head injury which impeded his cause - and his three and 13 at the MCG now has not helped his cause. That he could average only 39.00 at home against the West Indies in between is a cause for worry.
As of now, Gambhir is a sure starter for second Test starting in Sydney on January 3 and Dhoni's public posturing is in support of the left-handed opener.
"He's someone who is batting really well in the nets. He just needs to take that extra step and do the same thing into the middle. Once you play 30-40 deliveries as an opener, everything is sorted out," Dhoni said.
A sensitive man, Gambhir's failures appear to have affected him as a person. Never a very outgoing person in public, Gambhir appears to have withdrawn further into his shell and now has a slinking presence at nets or in the field.
India needs Gambhir - and Sehwag - to strike in Sydney. That famous middle order usually needs that start to come on to their own. There are not many instances, especially abroad, when the famous Delhi pair of openers have collectively failed and the middle order has been able to repair the damage. — PTI
Dubai, December 30
Tendulkar, who scored a half century in the opening MCG Test defeat against Australia, shared the fourth spot with South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, while Dravid slipped to 11th after dropping a couple of spots in the latest list, the ICC said in a release.
Among the bowlers, pace spearhead Zaheer Khan was the only Indian in the top-10 at an unchanged sixth position.
Among the Australians, fast bowler Peter Siddle, who took three for 63 and three for 42 in Australia's 122-run victory, jumped five places to seventh, where he is joined by Sri Lankan Rangana Herath.
Herath claimed match figures of nine for 128 which turned out to be the cornerstone of Sri Lanka's 208-run victory over South Africa on Thursday.
Australia fast bowlers Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson have also moved in the right direction. Hilfenhaus, who took five for 75 and two for 39, has gained seven spots in the rankings and now sits just outside the top 20 in 22nd position.
Man of the match Pattinson has been rewarded for match figures of six for 108 with a jump of five places which puts him in 31st spot.
There is something to cheer for young India fast bowler Umesh Yadav and South Africa's debutant Marchant de Lange.
Yadav has moved up five places to 42nd spot after figures of three for 106 and four for 70 while de Lange has entered the list in the 51st position after figures of seven for 81 and one for 45.
The bowling list is still headed by South Africa's Dale Steyn.
In the batsmen's top-50 list, Hashim Amla (up by three to seventh), Thilan Samaraweera (up by three to 13th), Mike Hussey (up by one to 16th), Virender Sehwag (up by one to 18th) and Ricky Ponting (up by seven to 24th) are among those who have headed up.
Australia opener Ed Cowan has entered the list at the 61st position after making an impressive debut in Melbourne. The batting list is headed by Kumar Sangakkara who became the eighth Sri Lanka batsman to score a zero and century in the same Test. — PTI
Melbourne, December 30
"If you get one wrong in this format it can't be rectified. It is a ludicrous situation which makes every situation magnified. It is very frustrating," Harper was quoted as saying in the 'Herald Sun'.
"The technology is not 100 per cent accurate but it never will be. It is not perfect but it is a step in the right direction," he added.
The Indian Cricket Board has refused to use the Decision Referral System with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying that the technology isn't fool proof.
India's refusal to use UDRS led to the controversial dismissal of Mike Hussey (0) and debutant Ed Cowan (68) by the on-field umpires in the opening Test even though TV replays suggested that they did not edge the ball.
India also could have been benefitted by the DRS as they could have got Ricky Ponting out early in his second innings.
Michael Hussey too was lbw twice and caught down the leg side once, which could have changed the result of the game.
Earlier this year, ICC had ruled that the DRS would be implemented for all Test matches but later changed its stance and made its use subject to bilateral agreements between the participating boards.
"The ICC is doing no controlling and the rest of the world is being held to ransom," said Harper, who retired from the ICC elite panel after 95 Tests and 175 ODIs in June. "The man on the street is asking how can the ICC allow this to continue." — PTI
Expect a fast track: SCG curator
Sydney, December 30 A year ago, Australia registered a first-day score of 134/4 on a rain-marred first day en route to an innings defeat to England. "I was happy with that (pitch for the game against England) and I was happy with the previous year's as well (against Pakistan)," Parker told 'ESPNcricinfo'. "The last two years we've really got it together and it has really come up well. I'm hoping to have a pitch somewhat similar to that. "That's the ideal scenario and that's what we're aiming for. I don't see why that won't happen. The weather's been kind to me and the forecast is for hot sunny days in the lead-up to the Test and the first couple of days of the Test, so I don't see why it shouldn't be perfect for us," he added. — PTI
Sydney, December 30
A year ago, Australia registered a first-day score of 134/4 on a rain-marred first day en route to an innings defeat to England. "I was happy with that (pitch for the game against England) and I was happy with the previous year's as well (against Pakistan)," Parker told 'ESPNcricinfo'.
"The last two years we've really got it together and it has really come up well. I'm hoping to have a pitch somewhat similar to that. "That's the ideal scenario and that's what we're aiming for. I don't see why that won't happen. The weather's been kind to me and the forecast is for hot sunny days in the lead-up to the Test and the first couple of days of the Test, so I don't see why it shouldn't be perfect for us," he added. — PTI
Punjab Police lift trophy
Patiala, December 30
The policemen opened their account in the 18th minute when inside-left Amit Sandhu collected a clean centre from right-winger Prabhjeet Singh and placed the ball into the net before goalkeeper Anil could react. The policemen held a slight edge in their attacking line and made quick forays into the EME territory but could not increase their lead due to solid defence put up by the Army outfit. There was no further score till the half-time.
In the second half, EME organized themselves and improved with each passing minute. Expectedly, they equalised in the 44th minute amidst loud cheers. The goal was scored by inside-right Jagjit, who deflected a full-blooded shot taken by centre-half Gurmeet Singh from the 25-yard line, giving no chance to the goalkeeper.
The game accelerated and there were many dangerous moves by EME but it was Punjab Police who again drew blood, going ahead in the 52nd minute when Jagbeer Singh rushed into the circle from the right wing and scored from a very acute angle.
Egged on by a vociferous crowd, EME harassed the policemen continuously towards the end of the match and were rewarded with two successive penalty-corners in the dying minutes. The Army men latched onto the opportunity when fullback S. Barla took an indirect hit from the short-corner to sound the board, making the score 2-2 in the 65th minute.
In the tie-breaker, EME missed twice through Gurbinder and Jagjit while the policemen converted all the four strokes taken by Satwinder, Avtar Singh, Charanjeet Singh and Ajay Kumar to decide the match with an aggregate score of 6-4.
Manchester, December 31
Both Manchester City and Manchester United are seven points clear of third-placed Spurs at the top of the table but Harry Redknapp's men have a game in hand.
When it comes to a London challenge for the Premier League trophy, Ferguson has usually had to look no further than Arsenal and Chelsea rather than to Tottenham, last crowned champions of England 50 years ago.
But with Spurs, for whom Wales winger Gareth Bale has been outstanding, playing both attractive and winning football, Ferguson would not be surprised if the English title returned to White Hart Lane for the first time since the celebrated League and FA Cup 'double' season of 1960/61.
"The difficulty for Arsenal and Chelsea is they have to overtake three teams so, unless the top three teams collapse, that would be the opportunity for Arsenal and Chelsea to take advantage," Ferguson said on Friday.
"I think Tottenham are playing the best football in the country, their current team and form are the best in country. They can definitely win it."
Meanwhile, United manager Ferguson confirmed he wanted to hang on to Spurs old boy Dimitar Berbatov and keep the striker at Old Trafford until 2013.
The 30-year-old's future has been the subject of speculation as he has struggled for regular first team football this season.
Several Premier League clubs, plus his former German team Bayer Leverkusen, have been linked with moves for Berbatov in the January transfer window. The uncertainty has been fuelled by the fact Berbatov's original contract is due to expire at the end of the current campaign. — AFP
Abu Dhabi, December 30
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic appeared to have shaken off the rust he complained about coming into the event and showed plenty of the dominant play that helped him amass a 70-6 record last season including three Grand Slam titles.
The 24-year-old Serb twice broke No. 3-ranked Federer in the first set and ran off nine games in a row in a one-sided affair that lasted only 44 minutes. In Saturday's final, Djokovic will face the winner of the match between second-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 5-ranked David Ferrer later Friday.
"It is the perfect start to season. I played great," Djokovic said. "It's something that makes me very happy."
However, Djokovic said fans shouldn't read too much into his win over Federer, against whom he had a 4-1 record in 2011, including victories at the Australian Open and US Open.
Djokovic attributed his win in Abu Dhabi to having a match under his belt - a win over Gael Monfils on Thursday - and a quick start that gave him momentum and prompted Federer to make several unforced errors.
"He has won over 15 matches at the end of 2011 so I'm sure he won't feel down after this loss here," Djokovic said. "His main goal here is to get a couple of matches under his belt as it is for all of us."
Federer apologized to the crowd for disappointing them with his quick exit and promised to play better Saturday when he faces the loser of the Nadal-Ferrer match. He said he felt "good overall" and "was moving well" but that he just was unable to chase down Djokovic's groundstrokes that repeatedly caught the corners.
"It's surprising when it goes quick and you are on the losing side. It's not so comfortable sometimes," Federer said. "You try hard and try different things and it's not working. He was playing really well. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived match but we know he is a very good front runner. He took the lead in both sets quite early and that made it difficult.” — AP