Federer masterclass on dramatic day
Rajasthan all set to retain Ranji Trophy title
Test cricket hierarchy ripe for a coup
India look to avoid whitewash in Australia
‘Let’s see Aussie temperament on Indian turners’
City down Spurs in 5-goal thriller
Graham Ford set to replace Marsh as Lanka coach
Totti breaks goal record as Juventus go clear at top
United Sports Club stun Bagan
Athletes feel the heat as records do not count
Melbourne, January 22
While Federer was at his mesmerising best and Rafael Nadal also went through, China's Li Na left in floods of tears after she fell victim to an astonishing comeback by hobbling women's champion Kim Clijsters.
And ear-splitting boos greeted Tomas Berdych's win over Nicolas Almagro as the Czech player refused to shake hands at the end of their stormy match.
Nineteen-year-old Tomic, the great hope of Australian tennis, could only shake his head in disbelief as Federer dug into his bag of tricks and unleashed his full repertoire of unreachable drops and a balletic backhand smash.
Nadal, seeking his 11th major victory and his second Open crown, beat fellow Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals without dropping a set.
The powerful second seed kept Lopez at bay with serving accuracy of 80 percent and he piled on the pressure with nearly error-free tennis to stay unbeaten on hardcourts against his Davis Cup team-mate.
Nadal will play Berdych in the quarter-finals while Federer has a testing match-up with Juan Martin del Potro, his conqueror in the 2009 US Open final, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
Belgium's Clijsters looked on the verge of quitting when she rolled her left ankle in the first set, and despite gritting her teeth and playing on she looked down and out facing four match points in the second-set tiebreak.
But the despairing Li saw Clijsters save all four, culminating in a brave drop-and-lob combination -- and the Belgian took the set as the flustered Chinese netted, and then went long.
It proved a dramatic tipping point as errors flowed from the racquet of French Open champion Li, who was broken immediately in the third set and could not claw her way back despite pleas from her coach and husband Jiang Shan.
Elsewhere Berdych was booed mercilessly by the crowd for refusing to shake Almagro's hand, claiming the Spanish player aimed a ball at his face.
Meanwhile Victoria Azarenka defeated Czech Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final with her close friend Agnieszka Radwanska, who brushed aside Germany's Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-1.
Paes-Stepanek win, Hesh-Bopanna
Leander Paes today inched closer to his first-ever Australian Open title by making it to the doubles quarter-finals along with Radek Stepanek but it was all over for his compatriots Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. The unseeded Indo-Czech pair of Paes and Stepanek shocked third seeds Michael Llodra of France and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic 7-5 7-6(2) in a hard-fought third round match.
Leander Paes today inched closer to his first-ever Australian Open title by making it to the doubles quarter-finals along with Radek Stepanek but it was all over for his compatriots Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna.
The unseeded Indo-Czech pair of Paes and Stepanek shocked third seeds Michael Llodra of France and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic 7-5 7-6(2) in a hard-fought third round match. — Agencies
Chennai, January 22
The defending champions didn't enforce follow-on and were 21 for no loss at stumps with their lead swelling to 347. The final day's play has now been rendered inconsequential as the match as a contest is already over. Kudos to Hrishikesh Kanitkar who has now successfully lead the team to successive national titles. It's a story that will be discussed in the cricketing fraternity for years to come.
The team may not consist of best of talents but they have a dedicated bunch of cricketers who have made all the pundits who had termed their last season's triumph as fluke, eat a humble pie. Tamil Nadu players on the otherhand would certainly feel that they have lost their best chance to win the trophy.
Especially, when they arguably had the best yop-order line-up in domestic cricket. When it mattered the likes of Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and S Badrinath failed to deliver.
It was always a difficult task for the hosts to come back from 66 for three but Karthik tried his best to delay the inevitable. In fact, he has now scored a century in two Ranji finals and yet ended on a losing side. Karthik who faced 280 balls hit 21 boundaries and a six. Karthik hit some delightful strokes square of the wicket before he was the ninth Tamil Nadu batsman to be dismissed as he was played on off Sumit Mathur's delivery. It was a tired looking stroke as he didn't move to pitch of the delivery and the ball took the inside edge as the off-stump went for a walk.
Tamil Nadu started the day badly as Rituraj Singh got K Vasudevadas (25) to flick one to square leg where Gajendra Singh took a catch. Then Karthik was joined by R Prasanna (44) and the duo added 76 runs before the latter was run-out. The writing was on the wall but L Balaji (29) and J Kaushik (5) provided a bit support as 60 and 65 runs were added for the eighth and ninth wicket. — PTI
New Delhi, January 22
The International Cricket Council (ICC) dangles an annual $175,000 carrot for whichever team tops test rankings on the April 1 cut-off date and table-toppers England were justified in believing they could be cashing the cheque in a few months.
They still lead the race by a healthy margin but being thumped by an ambitious Pakistan team inside three days of their first Test this year, skipper Andrew Strauss and his team mates can no longer take it for granted.
If England may be lined up for an April Fool's Day surprise, the situation is even worse for the team they inherited the number one ranking from.
India, beaten 4-0 by England last year, are staring at their second successive overseas whitewash against an Australian team determined to claw their way back to the top. The inconsistencies at the top is good news for South Africa, who now sniff a slim chance to gatecrash England's party.
At present, England top the official rankings with 125 points, followed by India (118), South Africa (117), Australia (103), Pakistan (99) and Sri Lanka (98). England's rise to the top was a reward for a blemish-free 2011 when Strauss's men did not lose a single Test.
But the side were given a rude awakening in Dubai earlier this week where Pakistan, one of the most improved teams last year with just one loss and six wins, spanked them in three days to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
"This England team have not won in the subcontinent. They even played badly in the World Cup last year, which was held in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka," former England opener Geoffrey Boycott wrote in a column in the Telegraph newspaper.
"Until they start playing well in the subcontinent they can't call themselves the best team in the world and definitely can't be judged against some of the other great England sides," Boycott added.
Former Pakistan skipper Javed Miandad was also quick to pour scorn over the ICC system. "I don't believe much in rankings because it doesn't give a clear picture of the team's overall performance in the world,"
Miandad was quoted as saying by Cricinfo. "England are now the number one team because they had the home advantage and never lost in their backyard."
There was similar disputing of India's rise to the top despite their woeful record outside the subcontinent. However, England can still guarantee themselves the hefty ICC cheque by winning at least one of the remaining two Tests against Pakistan or drawing both.
But if Pakistan beat England by a 2-0 margin or more, South Africa could pocket the cheque, provided they can blank New Zealand in the away Test series in March. England now have two tests to redeem themselves or it would be more instability at the top, which maybe good for the game but certainly not for Strauss and his men. — Reuters
Melbourne, January 22
It has been a tour from hell for the Indians, collapsing to heavy defeats in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and with their skipper MS Dhoni suspended for the Adelaide Test for a slow over rate in the abject third Test defeat.
India, who relinquished their top Test ranking when they were crushed 4-0 in England last year, face their eighth consecutive away defeat if they cannot prevent the rejuvenated Australians from inflicting another drubbing.
Test cricket's greatest run scorer, Sachin Tendulkar, is still seeking his 100th international century and has the chance to reach the mark at the Adelaide "home" ground of cricket legend Don Bradman.
It has been a frustrating time for Tendulkar, 38, and probably on his farewell tour of Australia, missing out on his elusive ton in six innings in the series so far.
Tendulkar, stuck on 99 Test and one-day international hundreds, has now gone 10 Tests and 20 innings without a hundred, one of the longest waits for a Test century in his 187-Test career.
But while fingers have been pointed at India's ageing batsmen for their role in India's sorry series, Tendulkar has been solid, scoring 249 runs at an average of 41.50.
The Adelaide Test looms as a crucial one for senior batsman VVS Laxman, who at 37 is under extreme pressure over his Test future after a miserable series in which he has scored just 102 runs at an average of 17.
Laxman reportedly batted for nearly two hours in the Adelaide Oval nets on Thursday in a desperate bid to regain his touch with indications that he will play in the final Test.
The pressure is also on Virender Sehwag, who will lead India, still ranked number two in the world, in Dhoni's enforced absence.
Sehwag has not lost a Test in his three matches at the helm but he is another senior batsman out of form and needs a typical buccaneering knock to galvanise his team.
"Ultimately, I have always believed that a captain is only as good as his team," opening batsman Gautam Gambhir said.
"MS (Dhoni) has done a great job, but it is the entire team that has not performed and that needs to take the blame."
Little has gone right for India -- thrashed by 122 runs in Melbourne and by an innings and 68 runs in Sydney, both inside four days, before an abysmal innings and 37-run defeat inside three days in Perth. Australia's bowlers have dominated, with swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus taking 23 wickets in the series at 16 apiece and Peter Siddle 17 wickets at under 20. — AFP
Adelaide, January 22
"Every country prepares according to their strength. We should also at home prepare according to our strength. If Australia, South Africa and England come, we should also prepare rank turners. Then their temperament and technique would be tested," Gambhir said ahead of the fourth and final Test of the four-match series, which India have lost 0-3.
"There is a lot of grass (on pitches here) which has helped seamers. We shouldn't be afraid to prepare turners. Then we would know if they are mentally strong. Then we would know if they still chit-chat and question our techniques," he fumed.
The Indian batsmen have flopped on the bouncy tracks and barring Sachin Tendulkar, no one has shown the ability to tackle the rising delivery -- something that has been pointed out by the critics and Aussies alike.
Gambhir wasn't willing to look at the issue individually, be it him as a future captain, Virender Sehwag as the stop-gap captain or Virat Kohli who has lately run into form.
"I see myself scoring far more runs for India than (worrying) about (being) captain. That's more satisfying. If I could be part of the winning squad overseas, that's far more satisfying.
"As for Sehwag, we want him to bat as he does. He sets the game up for us. You have different players in the line-up, some hit straightaway while there are others who look to bat through the day. Viru is best when he is aggressive. If he bats freely, it makes difference to team.
"But if 11 players perform well on the field, it makes it an wasy task for Viru. As for Kohli, he can take confidence (from his knocks) in Perth." — PTI
London, January 22
The game started with a lot at stake as City, looking to pull away from Manchester United, and without Yaya Toure tried to keep their title bid intact.
Spurs, on the other hand, have been the surprise performers this season and have held teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool at bay as they started the game in third position.
After a goalless first half, City drew first blood with Samir Nasri scoring in the 56th minute. That goal was followed up by another one in the 58th, when Julian Lescot scored for the home side, and it looked as if City would run away with the game. But Tottenham shot back with goals from Defoe (60th) and Gareth Bale (64th).
But a penalty awarded against Ledley King in the 94th minute saw them lose as Mario Balotelli slotted in with ease. — Agencies
Graham Ford set to replace Marsh as Lanka coach
Colombo, January 22 Ford coached the Proteas for two years from 1999 to 2001, taking over from the late Bob Woolmer. An official announcement on this is likely to be made after the one-day series against South Africa, 'ESPNcricinfo' has reported. Under Marsh, Sri Lanka have lost three and won one of the five Tests they played. The only win, though, was their first ever in South Africa. They have also lost seven of the nine ODIs they have played. Ford will be the third coach appointed by Sri Lanka since Trevor Bayliss stepped down after leading them to the 2011 World Cup final. Marsh was appointed for two years in September, 2011 and was in charge for the series against Pakistan and South Africa. Stuart Law, who was Bayliss' assistant, took over for the England tour before quitting to coach Bangladesh. Rumesh Ratnayake then took over for the home series against Australia, before Marsh's appointment. Ford this week resigned as head coach of the Dolphins, the Durban-based franchise.
Colombo, January 22
Ford coached the Proteas for two years from 1999 to 2001, taking over from the late Bob Woolmer.
An official announcement on this is likely to be made after the one-day series against South Africa, 'ESPNcricinfo' has reported.
Under Marsh, Sri Lanka have lost three and won one of the five Tests they played. The only win, though, was their first ever in South Africa. They have also lost seven of the nine ODIs they have played.
Ford will be the third coach appointed by Sri Lanka since Trevor Bayliss stepped down after leading them to the 2011 World Cup final.
Marsh was appointed for two years in September, 2011 and was in charge for the series against Pakistan and South Africa.
Stuart Law, who was Bayliss' assistant, took over for the England tour before quitting to coach Bangladesh. Rumesh Ratnayake then took over for the home series against Australia, before Marsh's appointment. Ford this week resigned as head coach of the Dolphins, the Durban-based franchise. — PTI
Rome, January 22
Club captain Totti scored twice inside the opening eight minutes yesterday, while Fabio Borini, Juan and Miralem Pjanic scored the other goals, with Eder netting for Cesena, who remained rooted in the bottom three.
It meant the 35-year-old reached 211 top-flight league goals for the capital club, surpassing the 210 that Swedish great Gunnar Nordahl managed for AC Milan more than 50 years ago.
"It's what I've always wanted, to wear this shirt and beat one record after another," said Totti. "I feel good, I'm going to enjoy this splendid moment and I will keep playing as long as I'm physically able to do what I want to do and if that's no longer the case, I'll be the first to stop." Sixth-placed Roma are now 11 points off top spot, having played a game less than Juve. At times they were on another planet to their visitors.
"This type of football doesn't just please me but would please any coach," said coach Luis Enrique. "If the players enjoy themselves, they have a better chance of winning. The match was all over inside eight minutes as Roma swept into a three-goal lead, carving through Cesena's porous defence.
After Gabriel Heinze's raking cross-field ball, Totti took a backheel from Erik Lamela after just 40 seconds and fired home. — AFP
Kolkata, January 22
Kayne Vincent (16th) gave United SC the lead but Bagan hit back in three minutes, courtesy an Anwar Ali strike as both the teams, in race for title, made their intention clear early into the start.
But it was Deepak Mondal who produced a powerful right-footer from 30 yards that sealed Bagan's fate as they registered the second successive I-League win this season against the same opponents.
The Sanjoy Sen side, who had beaten Mohun Bagan 3-2 in the first-leg, did well to mark goalmachine Odafa Okolie, while Ashim Biswas and Jose Barreto did not have the same sting to bounce back once again.
With two wins from as many matches, United SC (28 points) displaced Bagan (27) from the fourth position in the standings, as the Sanjoy Sen-coached side broke into top five. It was the second straight loss for Mohun Bagan as they went down to Sporting Clube de Goa by a similar margin in their away last round fixture.
United SC kept pressure on the Bagan defence and almost took a third minute lead when Yusif Yakubu's header in front of the goal went wide. — PTI
Athletes feel the heat as records do not count
Ludhiana, January 22
The objection has been levelled by none other than School Games Federation of INDIA (SGFI). The national sports body has raised questions over the manual method of recording time. The absence of electronic time keeping machine and photo-finishing has proved to be the biggest drawback of organizers of the 57th National School Games.
Sports authorities have no objection about the throw events but if any athlete breaks the record in running events, it cannot be recognized.
Jashanjot Singh said, " I was very happy when I came to know that I have broken the record. But later they told me that SGFI may not recognize my record and I was sad. Now I am anxious about final decision."
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of SGFI, KS Murthy said, "According to the rules, photo-finishing equipments should be there to give recognition to the records. Technical committee on school games will decide on this. Hopefully committee will recognize the performance of players".