Tendulkar is the theme, hyperbole is the method
Form gives me a chance to win Indian Open
Indian men thrash Oman 3-0 in ACT
World Tour Finals: del Potro hits back to down Gasquet
Paes-Stepanek pair makes a winning start
Borussia Dortmund look to destroy Arsenal at home
Nadal secures revenge win over Ferrer
Bolt reveals he devoured 1,000 Chicken McNuggets during 2008 Oly
The unrelenting focus on Tendulkar makes a travesty of this series
Kolkata, November 5
Yet, yet, yet… It’s impossible to get away from the feeling that this two-Test series against West Indies is about only one man. This feeling is not without basis.
The organisation of this series in India, rather than in South Africa, fulfils the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s geopolitical (yes!) and commercial interests.
One, the BCCI punishes Cricket South Africa (CSA) for choosing a boss it didn’t like; two, the massive amount of revenue generated by this big ‘event’ — Tendulkar’s retirement — goes to a broadcaster who has a deal with the BCCI, not the one contracted with CSA; three, Tendulkar’s farewell ends with a dream script in which he plays his final Tests in the city most passionate, and in the city of his birth and residence.
The context of the series, thus, is Tendulkar, none other. Which makes a travesty of this series, which starts just three days after a most brutal One-day series against Australia; only two practice sessions were held between the end of that series on Sunday night and the beginning of this one.
Tendulkar deserved a grand farewell; he perhaps even deserved a farewell at home rather than in South Africa. But wouldn’t a fan of the sport preferred a contest between Dale Steyn and Sachin Tendulkar over a contest between him and Veerasammy Permaul? The first could spell sporting excellence, the second only emotional surfeit.
Did Tendulkar deserve this?
The cricket, it’s fervently hoped, would match the hype. Tendulkar, the genius batsman, the fierce competitor, certainly deserves that.
Fans demand a century from Tendulkar in his last two Tests; but it must be remembered that he last scored a Test century nearly three years ago; his Test averages over the last three years have been 47.25, 23.80 and 32. In 22 Tests during this time, he’s made only one century and eight half-centuries.
In nearly three years, Tendulkar hasn’t got an international century against any team except the somewhat unthreatening Bangladesh — that was the master’s 100th international ton.
Tendulkar’s dismissals against Monty Panesar and James Anderson last year suggested his feet were frozen, his hands slow and his mind shackled. Tendulkar’s time, whether he likes it or not, is well and truly up.
Another ancient giant
There’s another ancient cricketer who’d be in action in this series, one who would play his 150th Test match in Mumbai. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is 39, he’s played 148 Test matches, and he’s got a terrifying record against India — seven centuries and an average of 65.74. There are others, too, 20 others.
In the opposition, the foremost adversary would be bowler-eater Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo and the fast bowlers Kirk Edwards and Kemar Roach. Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels can make trouble, too.
In the Indian team, Ravindra Jadeja is missing due to a strain. He’s been ridiculed as a domestic triple-centurion who can’t bat in Tests; but it’s quite likely that MS Dhoni primarily picked him up for his bowling. He took 24 wickets in four Tests against Australia earlier this year. He’d be missed.
Jadeja’s place would be taken by a batsman or a spinner. Dhoni is likely to decide the team composition on his reading of the wicket.
No match has been played on the track, its nature is unknown. The West Bengal Ranji Trophy captain LR Shukla believes that it is full of runs. That’s what the curator, Prabir Mukherjee, says, too. The wicket seems dry and grassless, though, and could turn from the second day.
"If we go with five bowlers, both of them [Rohit and Rahane] may not play,” Dhoni said today. “If we say we need someone who can bowl a bit of offspin, Rohit plays. If we say we go with four specialist bowlers, and if needed we will look for someone else, Ajinkya will play. You'll have to wait and watch.”
Dhoni summed up the possibilities without revealing anything. Rohit comes from a murderous batting performance in the recent One-day series. That could clinch the spot for him. Rahane debuted for India in the Delhi Test this March due to an injury to Shikhar Dhawan. Before him, the last Mumbai debutant batsman was Wasim Jaffer in 2000. Mumbai’s assembly line of batsmen has been a bit tardy. But now Rohit and Rahane look good for the future, as one little big Mumbaikar bids his farewell to the sport.
Ishant Sharma, painted the villain of the One-day series —though all the bowlers suffered — might have to cede his place to Umesh Yadav or Shami Ahmed. India’s other regular quick, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, is likely to retain his place. There’s a caveat — with Dhoni, you never know.
What’s in the name and its spelling? A lot if it’s Sachin’s
The first thing Mahendra Singh Dhoni said to the sportswriters today when he came to discuss the forthcoming Test was: “First, tell me who spelt Sachin’s name wrong.”Yes, indeed, who performed this unpardonable sacrilege? Whose head must be chopped off for this crime? These questions absorbed the media and the Cricket Association of Bengal officials for hours after Dhoni rested his regal gaze on the error. Tendulkar’s name was spelt ‘Sachine’ on a hoarding next to the electronic scoreboard. The full message read: “Celebrating Sachine Tendulkar’s 199th Test match.” The hoarding was removed not long after Dhoni brought this up, embarrassing the CAB a great deal. A Sachin is a Sachin, however you might spell him. You could pronounce and spell his name as Shochin too, in Kolkata. The CAB and the media, though, thought differently. The error spelt trouble for man who made it. Tough questions were asked, and by the evening the criminals were identified. “The agency which was given the contract for the hoarding is responsible for this,” CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey later said. The buck had been passed successfully. — TNS
WE never thought of Sachin getting the India cap at a young age of 16. We were thinking of going step by step, from school level to zonal level and then the all India level, from under 15, under 19 and to senior level and so on, said Ajit Tendulkar, Sachin Tendulkar’s elder brother.
“Never ever thought of Tendulkar jumping all these levels and represent India at the age of 16 and go on to create so many records. We were proud and happy when he was selected for the first time for India in the Pakistan tour of 1989 and the family was absolutely delighted at that time,” he said.
Tendulkar’s decision to quit from Test cricket did not surprise his family members as he was assessing retirement for some time from series to series.
“At some point of time, he will have to retire. You can't go on playing forever. For some time, he was assessing every tour. It was not a shock as such to us. All the family members were around and a lot of discussion went into it. Finally it was his own decision.”
Talking about Tendulkar's character and his passion for the game, Ajit talked about the time in 1999 when their father passed away. “I remember father suffered a heart attack and it was on 28th Feb 1995 and Sachin was not going to know that. He was going to bat the next day and that was the last day of the match. Same thing happened during the 1999 World Cup (during which Tendulkar's father passed away) as well,” said Ajit.
“We really did not have to convince him to go back to England to play in the World Cup. He knew his father well. He (father) would have asked him (Sachin) to go back and play.
“Undoubtedly, it was very, very tough. But keeping all the emotions behind, he decided to leave for England and play in the remaining part of the World Cup.” Tendulkar scored a century in his first match after coming back from home against Kenya in the World Cup.
Ajit said that Tendulkar's trait of putting the team ahead of his personal achievements was an inborn quality.
“We did not inculcate that trait in him. He was born like that. It came naturally to him. In all his 24 years, he was never involved in a controversy and was never self seeking.
It (team spirit) was an inborn quality.” Asked about none of the family members watching Tendulkar play live, Ajit said, “It was a sort of 'nazar lag jayega'. We will only see the highlights,” said the elder brother— PTI
Top of the line
114 vs Australia at Perth, 1991-92
The Perth hundred, scored more than two decades back, is arguably his best. Here's why -he was touring Australia for the first time; was yet to turn 19; hadn't ever played on the fabled WACA wicket.
Yet, he adjusted beautifully to the pace and bounce; the straight drives and punches off the back foot he unleashed against the tri of Craig Mcdermott, Merv Hughes and Mike Whitney are the stuff of legends.
198The number of Test matches he has played. On Wednesday, he will turn out for his 199th match. The next on the list are former Australian captains Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting with 168 appearances each.
Tendulkar is the theme, hyperbole is the method
Kolkata, November 5
Tendulkar’s batting was beauty itself — with its classical minimalism of backlift, straight lines of his bat’s arc, his drives made powerful by timing not by his muscle. His numbers, though, are overpowering — they’ve overshadowed the simple magnificence of his batting style.
His numbers are amazing — but when the sport’s administrators attempt, in their turn, to provide a number-based tribute, it seems an avoidable excess.
Showers of rose petals, coins with his image, hundreds of balloons, thousands of masks, lakhs of posters, millions of fans — numberless numerical excesses have been committed in Tendulkar’s name.
Tendulkar stands calm in the middle of this tamasha — perhaps he knew that it would happen. It was inevitable, right from the moment he decided to announce a month in advance his intention to retire after this series.
Reports suggest that Tendulkar wasn’t delighted by the extravagance of his reception yesterday; some say that he frowned at the sight of his wax statue for it isn’t as fine as the one at Madame Tussaud’s; others say that the scrum of the photographers didn’t please him and his left eyebrow rose three inches, suggesting extreme annoyance; some add that the melee among the media, their arguments with the cops, distracted him from his craft when he was at the nets.
Tendulkar shouldn’t be surprised or distracted by this excess — if he wanted a quiet departure, he’d have announced his retirement after this series, or on the eve of the Mumbai Test.
Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman opted for one of these methods to end their careers.
Tendulkar did it not opt to do it this way — we must respect his decision. There’s a strong argument to favour it, too. The early revelation of his decision gives his fans time to plan their travel to his final two Test matches. Equally, it also gives time to cricket officials to plan their excesses.
But really, Tendulkar, India’s greatest modern sporting icon, arguably the nation’s greatest ever sporting icon, couldn’t simply slipped away, the way Dravid did.
Today, the first day of the beginning of the end, Tendulkar and the team got into the ground earlier than scheduled; Tendulkar batted in the nets against the pacers and the spinners. He stood at the umpire’s position at Amit Mishra bowled his leg-spinners. He had a long chat with Duncan Fletcher, a longer chat with Shikhar Dhawan, and the longest chat with Virat Kohli — around 25 minutes. They seemed to be discussing some aspect of the batting technique. Kohli, the heir apparent, the spiritual successor of Tendulkar, would treasure those precious minutes.
Was it any different than the past? Or have the eyes of the watchers, seeing the end approaching, see something significant in every act and move of the master? Mahendra Singh Dhoni suggested that was the case.
“It’s now that Sachin has announced these will be his last two Test matches that people are noticing it,” Dhoni said. “He’s always been someone who interacts a lot with the youngsters, and guides them as to what needs to be done — how they can improve, whether as a bowler or a batsman.”
New Delhi, November 5
Shiv said it was satisfying to win the European Challenge Tour Grand Final but it also left him drained. He would look to pull himself up and hoped his “good form” will give him a “better chance” to clinch the prestigious title.
“It was a satisfying win. Playing three tours, juggling between events and finally winning in the end is satisfying. But mentally it was straining. I got tired but coming into the tournament with a victory boosts the confidence,” said Shiv. “I need to get my energy up this week. For the last few years, I have been telling you guys how much I want to win this tournament, how it is the fifth major and it still remains a dream to win the Indian Open.— PTI
New Delhi, November 4
India opened the scoring against the run of play in the 19th minute through Akashdeep Singh’s strike, courtesy a lapse in concentration from Oman defence.
Talwinder Singh doubled India's lead in the 30th minute with another field goal after he was nicely set up by Prabhdeep Singh.
After the change of ends, the Indians found it difficult to breach the Omanese defence till the 62nd minute when Amit Rohidas converted a penalty corner to make the scoreline 3-0.
India will now play Pakistan in their next league match on Thursday.
India had earlier lost 0-2 and 1-2 to China and hosts Japan in their opening two matches in the tournament.
Meanwhile, India received the official confirmation of their participation in the World Cup on Monday. —PTI
London, November 5
Del Potro had suffered a distressing journey to London after being robbed at Paris's Gare du Nord railway station, an incident which cost him his passport and a rosary blessed by Pope Francis.
The former US Open champion, who lost to Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters on Friday, spent two hours talking to French police and sorting out paperwork before boarding the Eurostar and heading to the O2 Arena.
But the painful trip has proved worthwhile for fourth seed del Potro, who finally subdued a lively challenge from 27-year-old Gasquet in two hours and 23 minutes in the opening Group B clash.
The victory was crucial for del Potro, who faces Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in his remaining group matches. "I'm so happy to qualify once again here. I have fantastic memories from Wimbledon and the Olympics and I always play well in London," Del Potro said. "Richard has an unbelievable backhand and he is a good fighter, but in the end I played solid and won.
"Hopefully I can beat Novak and Roger. It's going to be really tough, but I don't have anything to lose against them."
Del Potro has claimed four titles this year and came desperately close to reaching the Wimbledon final, only for Djokovic to beat him in five sets in the semifinals.The 25-year-old arrived in London in good form, with two of his tournament victories coming in the last month in Tokyo and Basel, while he also beat Rafael Nadal to make the final of the Shanghai Masters. Gasquet was making his first appearance at the Tour Finals since 2007 after rising to ninth in the world rankings on the back of one of the better seasons in his mercurial career. With Andy Murray sidelined due to a back injury, Gasquet's ranking was high enough to earn entry into a tournament usually reserved for top eight players. — Agencies
London, November 5
The seventh seeded Paes and Stepanek pair beat the Austria-Brazilain combination 6-3 5-7 10-8 in one hour and 42 minutes.
Before prevailing in the Super Tie breaker, Paes and Stepanek overcame some anxious moments towards the end as their rivals fought hard. Paes and Stepanek serevd throughout well but it was in the 12th game of the second set, when the Indian dropped his serve from 40-15 to make it a more thrilling contest, stretched to a Super Tie breaker.
Before that they had four chance to break their rivals but Peya and Soares saved all. Paes and Stepanek had four match points but Peya and Soares saved three of the them. The Indo-Czech pair is now second in the four-team Group B, behind Spanish combo of David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco. — Agencies
Dortmund, November 5 Dortmund pulled off an impressive 2-1 win over the Gunners at London's Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski netting the late winner. Klopp's side are now looking to complete the double over Arsene Wenger's Arsenal at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, but the Borussia boss is full of praise for his opposite number. "For me, he is 'Sir' Arsene Wenger, I love him," enthused Klopp in an interview with the English media.
Dortmund pulled off an impressive 2-1 win over the Gunners at London's Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski netting the late winner. Klopp's side are now looking to complete the double over Arsene Wenger's Arsenal at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, but the Borussia boss is full of praise for his opposite number. "For me, he is 'Sir' Arsene Wenger, I love him," enthused Klopp in an interview with the English media.
Torres sidelined for Schalke clash
Torres made a premature exit from training on Monday and was absent as 25 members of the first-team squad took to the field at Chelsea's Cobham training base to finalise preparations for Wednesday's Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea host Schalke, who they beat 3-0 in Gelsenkirchen last month with two goals from Torres, bidding to enhance their position at the top of Group E. "Fernando we know has a muscular (leg) injury," Mourinho said. "We don't know the dimension. Scan tomorrow. Out for tomorrow and the weekend (against West Brom). "After that it's the international break and we will see how he recovers." Left-back Ryan Bertrand is also out of the Schalke contest after picking up an unspecified injury in training on Tuesday. — Agencies
Torres made a premature exit from training on Monday and was absent as 25 members of the first-team squad took to the field at Chelsea's Cobham training base to finalise preparations for Wednesday's Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea host Schalke, who they beat 3-0 in Gelsenkirchen last month with two goals from Torres, bidding to enhance their position at the top of Group E. "Fernando we know has a muscular (leg) injury," Mourinho said. "We don't know the dimension. Scan tomorrow. Out for tomorrow and the weekend (against West Brom).
"After that it's the international break and we will see how he recovers."
Left-back Ryan Bertrand is also out of the Schalke contest after picking up an unspecified injury in training on Tuesday. — Agencies
London, November 5
Nadal joins Stanislas Wawrinka on top of Group A with one win and he now needs one more victory at the season-ending tournament to finish 2013 on top of the ATP rankings. Ferrer, ranked third in the world, briefly rallied after slipping 5-0 behind in the second set, snatching a couple more games, but he succumbed meekly when he dragged a forehand into the net.
Later on Tuesday defending Novak Djokovic, who still has a slim chance of overtaking Nadal in the rankings, begins his Group B matches with a repeat of last year's final against Roger Federer.
Recovery my greatest feat: Rafa
Rafael Nadal admits his return to the top of the world rankings after battling a serious knee injury is the greatest achievement of his illustrious career. Nadal has arrived in London for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals on the verge of capping a remarkable recovery by finishing the year at number one in the world. That would be an incredible effort given the 13-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined with potentially career-threatening knee tendinitis for seven months from mid-2012 until this year. “It is the most difficult thing I did in my career. I'm 100 percent sure of that,” Nadal said. — Agencies
Rafael Nadal admits his return to the top of the world rankings after battling a serious knee injury is the greatest achievement of his illustrious career.
Nadal has arrived in London for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals on the verge of capping a remarkable recovery by finishing the year at number one in the world. That would be an incredible effort given the 13-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined with potentially career-threatening knee tendinitis for seven months from mid-2012 until this year.
“It is the most difficult thing I did in my career. I'm 100 percent sure of that,” Nadal said. — Agencies
London, November 5
The Jamaican revealed in his soon-to-be released autobiography, Faster than Lightning, his passion started with a box of 20, yes 20, of the golden chicken treats, but with his training going into overdrive, he soon needed far more, up to 100 a day, and even turned to an apple pie to take the edge off.
“At first I ate a box of 20 for lunch, then another for dinner,” he wrote. “The next day I had two boxes for breakfast, one for lunch and then another couple in the evening. I even grabbed some fries and an apple pie to go with it.”
The sprinter, who lit up the games, breaking three world records, claimed he only began eating the nuggets because he simply found Chinese food “odd”. But before you get any bright ideas — a 20 piece box of the crispy snacks totals 940 calories and 59 grams of fat. So if Bolt, then 22, was putting away 100 a day, that is nearly 5,000 calories in each of the 10 days he was in Beijing, where he wasn't just burning up the track - he was also burning some serious calories. — Agencies
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