Clarke spins it away from India
Playing with Pup
helped overcome nervousness: Moises
‘We need to pack them off within another 30 runs’
Hyderabad Test is on: BCCI
‘If Tendulkar retires, Test cricket will die’
Pistorius granted bail in girlfriend killing case
Sunny recalls Pataudi’s impact on Indian cricket
‘Rasool should play for India if he deserves’
Clarke spins it away from India
Chennai, February 22
Clarke, who has the face of an impish schoolboy, knew he had stepped into a chasm, but he acted as if nothing had happened. He held up the bat, turned around and began to mark the crease — the suspicions of umpire Kumar Dharamsena, if there were any, vanished. Clarke was declared not out — a dreadful mistake that has already cost the Indians 64 runs. Clarke was on 39 then, and he was not out on 103 at close of play. Though it didn’t quite put into shade Ravichandran Aswhin’s effort of six wickets for 88 runs, Clarke’s reprieve was the pivotal point of the day. Australia would feel secure and happy at 316/7.
Not much before that, at practically the mathematical middle of the day’s play — after 47 of the 95 overs bowled today — India had many reasons to be pleased. Ashwin’s strikes had Australia reeling at 153 for five. The top order had been practically wiped away. Two dangermen, David Warner and Shane Watson, had been sent back with little cost to India. And then what happens? Debutant Moises Henriques calmly comes in and plays an innings of great confidence and composure.
Henriques, the second Portugal-born player to feature in a Test, and Clarke added 151 runs for the sixth wicket at a fair clip, over 3.5 runs an over. Ashwin’s six wickets were India’s highlight of the day, but Australia have got runs on the board. Ashwin said at the day’s end that the hosts need to wrap up the Australian innings quickly, else disaster beckons. India have to bat last on a pitch that looked like an aged surface before play started; all this portends bad times.
The pitch looked quite worn even before a single ball had been bowled — Shane Warne said that it resembled a five-day pitch even before a single ball had been bowled. Clarke, thus, had his face split by a wide grin when he won the toss and declared he would bat.
Strangely, India didn’t play Pragyan Ojha in this match — wasn't he the most successful bowler of the Indian side in the series against England? Ojha had taken 20 wickets at 30.85 then, against Ashwin’s 14 at 52.64. Why drop him, then?
The idea that India would play only one seamer, Ishant Sharma, and three specialist spinners had gained ground even before the match. At the end of the first day’s play, it can be said that that would likely have been a good choice. Bhuvneshwar Kumar made his debut, but the two seamers were ineffective. Spin was introduced 22 minutes into the series, after just four overs with the new ball. After eight overs, Harbhajan Singh and Aswhin were bowling in tandem.
Later, Ravindra Jadeja came on and bowled 24 overs — five more than bowled by the senior specialist spinner Harbhajan. But overall, it was a case of Aswhin vs the Australians.
Harbhajan, playing his 100th Test, didn’t trouble the batsmen; he was short of the ideal length on this bouncy track and leaked runs on both sides of the wicket. Jadeja got one wicket, but he wasn’t really penetrative.
Ashwin later said he bowled just the way he had bowled in the series against England; he said it’s the vagaries of the sport that got him so much success today. But there did seem to be a difference — he seemed to be focusing on bowling regular deliveries, not trying too many things.
He nearly had Warner in his first over, but Virender Sehwag missed an easy chance at first slip. Warner did reach his half century, but he wasn’t comfortable. He struggled to time the ball, hit it too hard to the ground, edged it close to the stumps a few times. And Dhoni missed a difficult chance to stump him. Warner, thus, was lucky to reach 59.
Ed Cowan was the first to fall to Aswhin, stumped when he tried to hit his second six; Phil Hughes dragged a ball back to his stumps; Watson misread the line and was out LBW, as was Warner, and Matthew Wade became the fourth man to be trapped in front of the wicket.
Then ensued the innings-changing partnership between Clarke and Henriques. The two batsmen scored runs on both sides of the wicket. Clarke got 48 on the off side, 55 on the leg; Henriques had 31 on off, 37 on leg. These numbers suggest the bowlers committed the sin of not bowling to their fields; they were probably unable to master the bounce afforded by the Chepauk track, which made scoring possible on either side.
Australia 1st Inngs
Cowan st Dhoni b Ashwin 29
Warner lbw b Ashwin 59
Hughes b Ashwin 6
Watson lbw b Ashwin 28
Clarke batting 103
Wade lbw b Ashwin 12
Henriques lbw b Ashwin 68
Starc b Jadeja 3
Siddle batting 1
Total: (7 wkts in 95 ovs) 316
Fall of wickets: 1-64, 2-72, 3-126, 4-131, 5-153, 6-304, 7-307
Chennai, February 22
Henriques, who made 68 off 132 balls, was involved in a 151-run stand for the sixth wicket, which lifted Australia from 153 for five to 316 for seven by the end of day's play at the M A Chidambaram Stadium.
"The way Michael plays spin is different. He makes it easy down the wicket. I do not try and play as Michael does against spin. Playing with him helped me to be not nervous and I played calmly," Henriques told reporters.
It was a hard grind for the 26-year-old all-rounder, especially with six-wicket man Ravichandran Ashwin getting the ball to turn and bounce. “I think Ashen gets motivated to spin all the balls where he gets more bounce. It is quite hard to get out smothering his deliveries. He does not bowl many bad balls either.
"He is a disciplined bowler. He changed his pace up well and he hits same length all the time. It is very hard to score off him," Henriques said. He felt that the loose soil could play some tricks on the fourth and fifth day.
"General wear and tear of energy obviously saps you out in the sun. I do not think there was sort of wearing any less or anything like that but the foot marks in the loose ground out there looked like a three-day wicket.
“Obviously the loose soil out there is going to play some tricks on the fourth and fifth days." The Aussie said that first hour tomorrow will be very crucial.
“The first hour is very important for us. At this stage, the game is very balanced. Michael is in amazing form and hope he gets his two hundred." Henriques said that the Indians did not bowl too many loose balls.
"It was tougher. It gets easier a bit after you face about 30 balls. It did not become easier because they just were disciplined in what they were trying to do. They were not giving too many bad balls. It is certainly hard grind out there but I enjoyed very much these games. "As a batter I just had to keep grinding away. It is a hard ground and the spinners were rather disciplined."
Asked if India not fielding a specialist left-arm spinner was an advantage to Australia, he said, "I think it is obviously... because we have a lot of left-handers in our batting order. They played with two off spinners, there were lots of balls hitting stumps. Obviously, for right handers, if you miss anything you are going to be close to LBW." Henriques said that he would have loved to finish the day undefeated.
“In this game it was our turn and we have to make it count. Unfortunately, I really missed out on the chance to finish the day and we could have added another 30 runs or so. But let me say that the game is balanced and it is going to be a big hour the first thing tomorrow. — PTI
Chennai, February 22
“I think we need to pack them off within another 20-30 runs but we could have reduced their score by 60-70 runs if he'd (Michael Clarke) been given out. But it does happen, it's part of the game," Ashwin told mediapersons about Australian captain being given not out on 39 when TV replays showed that it was a bat-pad catch to forward short-leg fielder.
Ashwin was forthright in stating that he appealed as he was fully confident that Clarke had hit the ball.
“It was clear to me that he hit the ball and that's why we all went up to appeal. At the end of the day, it does happen. And Kumar Dharamasena is himself an off-spinner... We thought he'd give a few dismissals to me, to look at the lighter side,” the burly off-spinner said.
He did admit that the thought of emulating Anil Kumble's feat of getting 10 wickets did cross his mind.
“I'd be lying if I said no! Because the way things were going since the morning, the way the ball was coming out of my hand, I thought OK, actually it's a real possibility here. But in between, I had an injury on my finger and I had to go off the field. That took the momentum out a bit. Henriques and Clarke got in and they batted beautifully after that.” The 26-year-old however snapped back when someone asked him about his dip in form against England.
“See, I honestly think I didn't have a bad series against England. So if that was your opinion, yes you're supposed to have your opinion and I won't barge in on that, but I bowled exactly the same as I bowled against England, but yes today the wickets were coming.” — PTI
New Delhi, February 22
The visiting Australian players and officials had expressed concerns but BCCI today assured them all safety measures would be in place.
Senior BCCI official Rajeev Shukla said they saw no reason to shift the Hyderabad Test, scheduled to begin from March 2, from the city. "After BCCI President spoke to me, I spoke to Union Home Secretary, who was in Hyderabad and had discussion with the Chief Minister and officials of state government. After that he apprised me that adequate security will be provided to the players as well as the spectators. So Test match should not be shifted out of Hyderabad," Shukla said.
He said BCCI President N Srinivasan will speak to CA Chairman to assure him of the security. “I have conveyed to BCCI President, who in turn is going to speak to Chairman of CA to convey that govt. is giving guarantee.” — PTI
‘If Tendulkar retires, Test cricket will die’
If players like Sachin Tendulkar retire, Test cricket would 'die', says Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning former captain Arjuna Ranatunga. "If players like him (Sachin Tendulkar) don't play the longer version of the game, Test cricket will die. I pray to God he continues to play Test cricket. I was very happy to know he has retried from ODIs. For me Test is education and the shorter versions are entertainment," Ranatunga said. Ranatunga said Tendulkar still has a lot of cricket left in him. Asked whether Sachin was on a comeback trail after scoring two centuries in domestic matches, Ranatunga said the Mumbaikar, despite being 39, is a much better player than some of the younger Indians. "If Sachin plays one good knock, I am sure he will play two-three years more without a problem," he said. On to issues facing international cricket and Ranatunga came down heavily on the ICC, calling the sport's world governing body "toothless". Instead of blaming the BCCI for the non-implementation of DRS, Ranatunga turned his ire on the ICC. — PTI
If players like Sachin Tendulkar retire, Test cricket would 'die', says Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning former captain Arjuna Ranatunga.
"If players like him (Sachin Tendulkar) don't play the longer version of the game, Test cricket will die. I pray to God he continues to play Test cricket. I was very happy to know he has retried from ODIs. For me Test is education and the shorter versions are entertainment," Ranatunga said.
Ranatunga said Tendulkar still has a lot of cricket left in him. Asked whether Sachin was on a comeback trail after scoring two centuries in domestic matches, Ranatunga said the Mumbaikar, despite being 39, is a much better player than some of the younger Indians. "If Sachin plays one good knock, I am sure he will play two-three years more without a problem," he said.
On to issues facing international cricket and Ranatunga came down heavily on the ICC, calling the sport's world governing body "toothless". Instead of blaming the BCCI for the non-implementation of DRS, Ranatunga turned his ire on the ICC. — PTI
Pretoria, February 22
The decision by Magistrate Desmond Nair drew cheers from Pistorius' family and supporters at the Pretoria magistrate's court, although the athlete appeared unmoved as the decision was read out.
The decision followed a week of dramatic testimony about how the athlete shot dead Reeva Steenkamp.
Prosecutors said Pistorius, 26, committed premeditated murder when he fired four shots into a locked bathroom door, hitting his girlfriend cowering on the other side. Steenkamp, 29, suffered gunshot wounds to her head, hip and arm. Pistorius' defence team argued the killing was a tragic mistake, saying the athlete had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder. They said he was too famous to pose a flight risk and deserved bail to prepare for a case that has drawn worldwide attention.
The full trial is unlikely to start for several months. Pistorius faces life in prison if convicted of murder. The shooting and allegations at the bail hearing have stunned the world who saw his glory as an inspiring tale of triumph over adversity. — PTI
Sunny recalls Pataudi’s impact on Indian cricket
Chennai, February 22
As a batsman, he reached the ball and hit it hard and high. That was antithetical to the ways of Indian cricket then; if you hit the ball six inches above the ground three times, coaches made young players run a lap of the ground as punishment, holding the bat up with both hands. Gavaskar had the audience in splits as he explained that for him, the attraction of cricket lay in the possibility that he could meet a model or a filmstar, date her. “It didn’t quite happen that way,” he said with a laugh.
Gavaskar came to praise the great Pataudi; he also came to entertain the audience, make it laugh. He struck a serious tone, too, when he paid the obligatory obeisance to Test cricket —the toughest format, “the pinnacle of the game”. Apart from this, Gavaskar spoke mostly in the lighter vein, speaking extempore, without even a scrap of paper to tell him what to say.
He expressed the belief that “cricket today is in a very, very happy place” and that “there are more people playing the game and in more countries of the world, and there are also more millionaires playing the game today”. Gavaskar’s words, excellent but less than soul-stirring, reminded some listeners of the three wonderful lectures by two Indians and a Sri Lankan in the recent years -- Pataudi himself at Raj Singh Dungarpur’s 75th birth anniversary in December 2010; Rahul Dravid in his Bradman Oration in December 2011; and Kumar Sangakkara in his MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture in July 2011.
Pataudi had drawled on for over 25 minutes, talking about the state of cricket now — the most reproduced one-liner from that speech is: “The ICC may well be the voice of cricket; the BCCI is an invoice”. That speech came not long after the spot-fixing scandal involving Mohammed Aamir and Asif Mohammed, and the sack of Lalit Modi from the IPL. Tiger Pataudi’s words, as he called upon the BCCI to be moral leaders of world cricket, struck a chord with the listeners. Sangakkara delivered in excess of 8,000 words; Dravid, meticulous in everything he does, had a prepared text that topped the 6,000-word mark. They addressed corruption in cricket, the undermining of long-format cricket, and of various other serious issues. Their speeches were later described as exceptional and remarkable. Their message was serious, their words sombre, marked only by occasional flashes of humour. Sangakkara, in a moment of inspiration rarely accorded to a sportsperson, said: “Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for a common national cause. They are my foundation, they are my family. I will play my cricket for them. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket. With me are all my people. I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.” Wow. Those are inspired words, belonging among the greatest speeches ever made. To adhere to such sentiments could be very difficult; perhaps it’s in itself a blessing to nurture them. We would have loved for Gavaskar to have touched these heights of thought and expression.
Among these four speakers, Gavaskar is indisputably the greatest batsman. It’s a pity that his speech — a very important inaugural speech, to be an annual feature and named after a man who had seminal influence on Indian cricket — was the least significant.
Shona A Singh
Chandigarh, February 22
One of the leading amateurs in the country, who represented the country internationally, Uttam then went on to play professional golf - his most memorable victory was the Honda SIEL PGA Championship which he won twice. A regular on the Indian and Asian Tours, Uttam took up the reins of the PGTI in 2010. And he has taken the tour from strength to strength.
With the backing of a major corporate like the Avantha Group and its Chairman and CEO, Gautam Thapar as the President at the helm of the PGTI, it seemed that Uttam completed the picture. He understands the players aspirations, having been one himself and yet his years of having worked with a major corporate giant like Tata made him understand the importance and significance of sponsors to the game.
"It was quite easy to make the transition from being a player to managing the tour. Being a professional myself I understood the shortcomings on tour and what needed to be worked on. If I was not playing it would have been tougher," says Uttam.
While the 2013 season has just started, he already has a lot of plans for the future. “Our target for this year is approximately 23 tournaments. We plan to have about five to seven feeder tour events. The tour is growing steadily even though the last two years have been tough given the economic situation worldwide, it is improving every year and we might even get into golf academies or the teaching aspect of the game or even explore the options of having a seniors tour. There is a lot of potential still and a lot more we can do," says Uttam. "We have had a six-year run and have a long way to go but the future is bright," he adds.
“Golf in the country has improved tremendously with the increased prize money on offer and there are a lot of talented young professionals coming up every year. This is a change for the better as a few years ago there were just a handful of young golfers joining the sport. This week we gave tour badges to 19 young rookies. Khalin Joshi won the qualifying school and Ashbeer Saini who finished second in his first professional tournament shows just the kind of determined young professionals who are joining the tour now. They have had the right exposure and experience and have the mental ability to go a long way," says Uttam.
From the biggest detail to the minutest, Uttam is involved in all the details that go into making it a success. "We have been updating scores live on our website, but we made a few changes and it is going to be even quicker and more efficient now," says Uttam, talking about the scoring with an enthusiasm that he imbibes into every task he undertakes. "However, the players are most important as without them we will have no tour," he adds.
"Uttam makes an ideal director for the PGTI," says Jeev. "He is a perfect gentleman and a great sportsman, which is exactly what this game needs and stand for," he adds.
“Uttam understands the needs of the players and he is our best representative," says Ranjit Singh, a former board member. "He has always kept the players interests foremost yet knows the importance of attracting sponsors to the sport, so I think everyone is happy working with him."
The future of Indian professional golf is in the right hands and it certainly seems that Uttam is the correct man to take it to the next level.
Srinagar, February 22
“Parvez should play for Team India when the selectors think he deserves to be there. Don`t destroy everything he`s worked this way," Abdullah wrote on Twitter. — PTI
Somdev, Yuki may return for Davis Cup
Japan down India in tie-breaker shootout
Amla, de Villiers propel SA
Sania-Bethanie in Dubai Tennis c'ship final
McIlroy, Woods lose Round 1 of WGC