Lanka beat Aussies, hurt India’s chances
Olympic qualifier: Indian men, women in final
Weak defence is India’s bane, says Balbir Singh
Boxing trials begin at NIS
No communication gap in Team India: Walia
Hobart, February 24
Chasing Australia's 280 for six built around Peter Forrest's maiden ODI century, the islanders overhauled the target with four balls to spare in a match which went down the wire. Sri Lanka now top the table with 15 points from six games, one point more than second-placed Australia.
Sri Lanka's win today, their third on the trot in the tournament, left India (10 points from six matches) with the arduous task of winning both the remaining matches to make it to the final.
All the three teams have two games to go and all of them have a chance to make it to the finals. If India win both the two matches, Sri Lanka and Australia will be fighting for the other spot in the final.
The highlight of Sri Lanka's win was the classy 85 off 81 balls by captain Mahela Jayawardene and a solid 80 off 100 balls by Dinesh Chandimal. The duo shared a crucial 63 runs in 12.3 overs for the third wicket to lay the foundation of their victory.
Down the order and coming out at number eight, Thisara Perera played a cameo of 21 not out from just 11 balls to take Sri Lanka to victory at the Bellerive Oval here. He hit a boundary and a six in the penultimate over off Daniel Christian to tilt the balance in Sri Lanka's favour.
Chandimal, on the other hand, anchored the Sri Lankan innings after Jayawardene's dismissal with a 49-run stand for the fourth wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne from 10.3 overs to take the islanders to the threshold of victory.
After Chandimal's departure in the 45th over, Sri Lanka looked like losing the plot towards the close with quick dismissals of Farveez Maharoof (5) and Angelo Mathews (2) but Perera struck a four and a six in consecutive balls in the penultimate over bowled by Daniel Christian to seal the match for the islanders.
Jayawardene was in his classy self as he hit Brett Lee for a four early on and then lifted the veteran pacer for a clean six over deep midwicket in the fifth over. Lee was taken off with his first three-over spell costing 22 runs and Ryan Harris replaced him.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (3), on the other end, was quiet allowing his captain do most of the run accumulation. He was the first Sri Lankan to fall as he mistimed an attempted pull shot off Ben Hilfenhaus which landed straight in Peter Forrest's hands at deep square leg in the eighth over.
Next man in, Kumar Sangakkara (22) was off to a flying start with the first ball he faced off Harris being dispatched to the boundary as Sri Lanka were well on course at 68 for one after 10 overs.
Jayawardene kept quiet for a while but then reached his 64th ODI half century in the 12th over with a three off Daniel Christian.
With the boundaries coming thick and fast, Sri Lanka seemed to be cruising along before Australia struck again in the 14th over with the wicket of Sangakkara. Christian induced a leading edge from Sangakkara which went straight to backward point off a harmless delivery. Sangakkara hit two fours in his run-a-ball knock.
Australia got rid of the dangerous looking Jayawardene with left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty ending a scintillating knock that was threatening to take the game away from Australia, with a gem of a delivery. Just short of a length ball outside off-stump, it spun sharply and Jayawardene stepped out of his crease to reach to the pitch of the ball but this time was beaten and Mathew Wade did the easy stumping. Jayawardene hit six fours and a six in his 81-ball knock. — PTI
Wade c J’rdene b Kulasekera 5
Warner c S’kara b Maharoof 7
Forrest c Maharoof
b Mathews 104
Clarke c Perera b Mathews 72
Mike b Malinga 21
David not out 40
Christian st S’kara b Herath 6
Lee not out 20
Extras: (b-1, lb-1, w-3) 5
Total (6 wkts, 50 overs) 280
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-27, 3-181, 4-201, 5-243, 6-250.
Bowling: Malinga 10-0-56-1, Kulasekera 10-0-59-1, Maharoof 10-0-40-1, Herath 9-0-45-1, Mathews 7-0-43-2, Perera 4-0-35-0.
J’rdene st Wade b Doherty 85
Dilshan c Forrest b Hilfenhaus 3
S’kara c Warner b Christian 22
Chandimal lbw b Harris 80
T’manne c H’nhaus b Christian 24
Mathews c Warner b Christian 24
Maharoof c Harris b H’nhaus 5
Perera not out 21
Kulasekara not out 4
Extras (b-1, lb-6, w-8) 15
Total (7 wkts, 49.2 overs) 283
Fall of wickets: 1-55, 2-90, 3-153, 4-202, 5-243, 6-250, 7-267.
Bowling: Lee 9.2-0-63-0, Hilfenhaus 10-0-51-2, Harris 6-0-43-1, Christian 8-0-53-3, Doherty 10-1-35-1, Clarke 5-0-27-0, David 1-0-4-0.
Olympic qualifier: Indian men, women in final
New Delhi, February 24
Win or lose, India would have entered the title clash having already notched up 12 points, but Poland needed to either win or at least draw this match, to pip France to the title spot, as earlier in the day, France had drawn against Canada 1-1. A draw would have helped Poland tie with France on 10 points, but would have seen them through on better goal difference. India will be too pleased to meet France in the title clash for an Olympic berth, as in the group match, the hosts had given them a 6-2 hiding.
It was a sad exit for Poland, who had forged ahead converting their very first penalty corner through Tomaz Dutkiewicz in the 12th minute. India squandered three penalty corners before Sandeep hit bull’s eye with the fourth with a high scoop in the 26th minute. Though India continued to dominate, Poland put up a fight, breaking the Indian game plan with long scoops, but India took the lead, after wasting three more penalty corners, when Shivendra Singh guided home a carpet drive from the top of the dee by Saravanjit Singh, in the 25th minute. But three minutes later, Poland pulled even off their second penalty corner which was converted by Miroslaw Juszczak.
But the Polish elation was short lived, as following a counter attack, India forced their eighth penalty corner and V.R.Raghunath scooped in, to score his second goal of the tournament. And then Sandeep rounded off the tally with a clean sweep, off the ninth penalty corner, and he was greeted by a blinding roar from the packed galleries. India and France clash for the title on Sunday.
Eves beat Italy Indian eves made many a heart miss the beat before they finally slotted home the matchwinner against Italy (1-0) to book a berth in the final of the Olympic Qualifying Women's Hockey Tournament at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium here tonight. In an error-prone match, despite dominating, India, after muffing five penalty corners, got it right off the sixth, though in an indirect way, when Ritu Rani flicked in after Jaspreet Kaur’s powerful drive hit Italian goalkeeper Roberta Lilliu, and the ball popped up.
As it came down, Ritu Rani was well-positioned on the left of the goal, and flicked it from below shoulder-level to guide home. But the goal was allowed only after the umpires had a consultation as they first thought that Ritu had hoisted her stick above the shoulder level, which would have ruled out the goal.
India had no other escape route, but to win this match to earn a place in the final. But as usual they failed to seize their chances and made heavy weather of the contest. What came as a real shocker was their inability to score off five penalty corners as either they delayed taking the shot, or tried indirect hits and missed. Only Jaspreet Kaur’s powerful direct hit off the fourth penalty corner rattled the Italian goal, though it went wide narrowly, and she made up for the lapse when she paved the way for the all-important goal.
India were lucky that Italy could not convert any of the five penalty corners they earned, particularly the last two ones, which came just two minutes before the final hooter. When the visitors muffed their last penalty shot too, the packed stands heaved a collective sigh of relief as the Indian eves got into a huddle and celebrated the victory.
India will meet South Africa in the decisive clash tomorrow. Saturday’s fixtures: India vs South Africa (8 p.m): Canada vs Poland (5th-6th position, 3 p.m); Ukraine vs Italy (3rd-4th, 5.30 p.m).
Weak defence is India’s bane, says Balbir Singh
New Delhi, February 24
“I am very optimistic that the boys would qualify for the Olympics, which would do a world of good for Indian hockey”, Col Balbir Singh told The Tribune in an exclusive chat.
Looking at the positives, Col. Balbir Singh said it was an encouraging sign that the present men’s team have the urge to score more goals, though they also have the tendency to concede “soft” goals, which shows serious chinks in the deep defence.
Col. Balbir Singh, who has been associated with the Indian hockey teams (both men and women) as a coach, Government observer, selector and chief selector for the past many years, after his playing career was cut short in 1972 due to a ligament injury, observed that the defence was very weak because of which India have conceded six goals in four matches.
“We have conceded soft goals, which could have been averted as the goals came due to defensive lapses. The two quick goals by Canada should have been prevented. It’s very important how you effectively manage your defence as you need quick reflexes to stop fast-moving rival forwards”, Balbir Singh noted.
Giving credit to “world class” players like Sandeep Singh, S.V.Sunil and Sardar Singh for India’s improved display, Balbir Singh expressed concern at the porous defence, where V.R.Raghunath, ageing Tirkey and even Sandeep Singh have been found wanting.
“Sandeep, no doubt, is a world class drag flicker, but in the defence, he needs to display quick reflexes as presently he’s slow in tackling”, Balbir Singh added.
The veteran Olympian, who had played in various positions such as right half, left half and centre half, was happy to report that S.V.Sunil had improved by leaps and bounds as a forward, and he was especially happy that Sunil belonged to ASC, like him.
“Sunil has all the attributes like the quick starts of Harbinder Singh, explosive speed and ball control of Balbir Singh (of Railways) and Mukesh Kumar, to perfectly fit into the coach’s scheme of things in the forward line. After a long time, we have a really good speedy and searing forward, and along with Sardar Singh and Sandeep, we have some truly world class players”, exulted the soldier, who still prefers to stay in army accommodation, than availing of the five-star hospitality of Hockey India.
“We have to have players like them in the defence too, as our deep defence is very, very weak and the goalkeepers have not covered up the way they should have”.
Balbir Singh said the real test for Nobbs would come when India meet elite teams like Australia, Germany, Spain etc. in the Olympics. “In the last seven months, we have played against only two good teams---once against Belgium and twice against Pakistan (in the Champions’ Challenge Trophy in South Africa, and in the Nine-a-Side Tournament in Australia). He said on astro turf, the position of the goalkeeper is vital “as 80 per cent of victory/defeat depends on the custodian; once beaten, it’s difficult to recover on astro-turf”.
Boxing trials begin at NIS
Patiala, February 24
With many top contenders, including all five players who represented India in Beijing Olympics - Jitender, Akhil, AL Lakra, Vijender Singh and Dinesh - yet to qualify for the London Games, these trials will be crucial both for players and the selectors.
Giving information in this regard, chief boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu informed that four Indian players have already qualified for the Olympics - L. Devendro Singh (49 kg), Jai Bhagwan (60 kg), Manoj Kumar (64 kg) and Vikas Krishan (69 kg), these weight categories have already been reserved. Therefore, the players that will take part in the Continental Boxing Championship at Kazakhstan will be from the remaining 6 weight categories, which means many players have changed their weight categories for these trials.
He further informed that a 10-member selection committee under the chairmanship of Brig PK Muralidharan, including Senior vice president CK Jerath, government nominee and Arjuna awardee M Venu, Arjuna awardee Captain PB Mal, Arjuna awardee Jitender Kumar, Arjuna awardee Ali Kanwar, Arjuna awardee Rajender Prasad, Gurbax Singh Sandhu and foreign coach BI Fernandis has been constituted for these trials. There are also 10 referee judges headed by Narotom Ravat.
Throwing light on the selection criteria, he informed that every bout was being recorded and was being evaluated by entire selection committee and referee judges to ensure fair and transparent trials.
Sydney, February 24
"Let's not analyse the same situation, why this was generated, how it came to this. Let us forget it and be positive for the future," he said after the reporters asked about the dressing room atmosphere in the wake of BCCI's assertion that all was well within the unit.
While BCCI had claimed that the team unity was alright and reports of dissension was media's creation, based on what it has gathered from the media manager Walia.
Walia himself wasn't too keen to blame the media for the mess. "I am not blaming the media. At a distance, if the president has said it, it may be his views. But I have never said it. I have never blamed the media," clarified Walia.
On different opinions conveyed by BCCI, Walia said it could be a matter of communication gap. He also said he had never conveyed to BCCI that media reports were exaggerated and players were misquoted.
BCCI's reaction had come in the wake of media reporting that Dhoni and two seniors - Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir - were not on the same page. A section of the media reported that the three senior cricketers had a meeting on Thursday and an attempt was made to resolve the differences. But Walia denied any meeting ever took place.
"All we had was the meeting among all 17 on the day of the match, after the game, after the press conference.
"When I went back to that place, I conveyed it to everyone. Everybody said, 'sir we don't have any differences'. I have been along with them for 75 days. But there shouldn't be a chance given to anybody, not only to you but anybody else to feel there is a communication gap. I have conveyed that to the players in simple terms," said Walia.
Meanwhile, Irfan Pathan also claimed that there are no differences in the team. "Everyone is working hard. There is no difference of opinion in the team. I have been hearing things, but it's nothing like that. Things are pretty good. It's a matter of winning big games. Once we start winning the big games, these things are going to vanish," said Pathan. — PTI