England face uphill task against Lanka
Credit for my comeback goes to my wife and Lillee: Johnson
Manohar calls for suspension of IPL, CBI probe of all matches
Srinivasan should have resigned long back: Bindra
All eyes and ears on cricket’s ‘greedy dictator’
Anand closes in on title
Former captain Jude Felix named national coach
Dzeko doubles as City rule United
Nadal brushes off bomb scare, moves into Miami quarters
Bayern clinch title with seven games to play
Lahiri, Bhullar hope to hit it off in EurAsia Cup
Despite the rumblings in the BCCI, team India looked genuinely happy during practice
Subhash Rajta in Mirpur
It’s been a while since Punjabi numbers like ‘Tutak Tutak Tutiyian’ and “Dil Tote Tote Ho Gaya” ruled the popularity charts even in Punjab.
So one was not sure whether one heard right as the familiar sound notes wafted across a practice facility inside the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Wednesday. But with Virat Kohli showing a couple of ‘bhangra’ moves and Shikhar Dhawan too gyrating a bit, all doubts about the songs were allayed. They were indeed listening to Hans Raj Hans and Malkit Singh numbers; Yo Yo Honey Singh will perhaps have to wait for the next batch of cricketers to break into the cricketing world.
If someone had been looking for any sign of discomfort and tension in the team as a result of the rumblings in the BCCI back home, he would have been utterly disappointed. The team looked genuinely happy, almost detached from the happenings back home, just enjoying its practice session. Even Yuvraj Singh, who must be under tremendous pressure following his poor run in the tournament, was cheerful enough to crack a joke and pull Ravindra Jadeja’s leg.
This is what happened. While playing football ahead of the nets, Jadeja stopped the ball with his hand, and, thinking it hadn’t been noticed by anyone, continued the game. Yuvraj, standing at the other end of the field, shouted at him in visible anger. “Jadu kuch to sharm kar, tere haath men lagi ha baal,” he screamed. (Jadu, have some shame, the struck you on your hand). And as the visibly rattled all-rounder mumbled out some incoherent explanation, Yuvraj broke into a smile, and soon everyone was in splits.
That’s one good thing about this team; the players seem to enjoy each other’s company, and apparently get along quite well. Normally when the team is on a losing spree, as they had been before coming into the tournament, it’s common to hear some frustrated or rebellious voices. In India’s case, there has been none. It was only the skipper who had been admonishing the bowlers for their below par performances, but his public reproach was taken in the spirit it ought to be taken.
Amit Mishra, for instance, couldn’t seem to thank Dhoni enough for his support and “tips”. Even though Mishra had got a chance to play after warming the bench for a long time — the popular perception is that Dhoni didn’t have enough faith in Mishra’s abilities — there was not even a hint of malice or sarcasm as he generously thanked the skipper. Quite clearly, the skipper seems to have the trust and respect of all his teammates. The days when he had to parade the entire team before the press — as he did during the T20 World Cup in England in 2009 — to scotch the rumours of the team being a divided house are well and truly over.
Dhoni is the undisputed leader of the side, and the fact that Virat Kohli, the heir apparent, has huge respect for him has helped in making the side a happy unit. “Dhoni has been a very important player for us in the past few years and has led the team very well. We have been really consistent in the One-day format and one of the big reasons for that has been his captaincy and his consistency with his batting and finishing the games for us,” said Kohli when captaining the side in the Asia Cup.
The importance of everyone being firmly behind the skipper and pulling in the same direction could hardly be overstated, especially in a tournament as big as this.
Bangladesh has broken an Indian record. Not on the cricket field, though. The record the nation shattered, on its Independence Day, was the one of having the most people sing a national anthem together. Until March 26, Sahara India Parivar, the Indian conglomerate, had the record against its name — about 1.2 lakh people had sung India’s national anthem in Lucknow in May last year. Bangladesh, however, smashed the record on Wednesday with over 2.5 lakh people singing the national anthem ‘Amar Shonar Bangla, Ami Tomay Bhalobashi’, penned by Rabindranath Tagore. — Subhash Rajta
Chittagong, March 26
England were left ruing the weather after their effort of posting 172/6 went in vain and they lost by nine runs to New Zealand via Duckworth-Lewis method on Saturday.
In fact, England players were left disappointed following the umpires' decision to keep the teams on the field even though lightning and thunder claps had started early in the fifth over during New Zealand's run chase at the ZACS Stadium.
After the match, skipper Stuart Broad minced no words and his criticism of the umpires' decision prompted the ICC to fine 15 per cent of his match fee.
However, all these are in the past now and England will have to put the disappointment behind and focus on a strategy to outwit Sri Lanka, who have been simply unstoppable so far.
Dinesh Chandimal's men notched up convincing victories against the Netherlands and South Africa in their last two matches to sit at the top of the table with four points and they would look for an encore against England.
For England, the months leading up to the tournament have been marked by an embarrassing Ashes loss, and Broad's men will have to play out of their skin to salvage any hope of a turnaround.
England, however, have reasons to feel confident as most of their top and middle-order batsmen clicked in the last match with Moeen Ali and Michael Lumb sharing a 72-run stand for the second wicket and Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara too chipping in with cameos to power the team to 172 for six.
However, their bowling has not been tested as they could bowl only five overs against New Zealand.
SA aim for big win against minnows Dutch
South Africa would look to boost their net-run-rate with a big win against struggling qualifier Netherlands in a Group 1 Super 10 match here on Thursday. After scraping to a narrow two-run win over New Zealand, riding on heroics of Dale Steyn, South Africa now have a chance to improve on the negative net run-rate (-0.075) as they are unlikely to be challenged by the minnows. With one defeat and a win, South Africa are placed third with two points and tomorrow is their chance to move up before they face more serious challenge in England on Saturday. New Zealand too are on two points with similar results but they are placed second due to a better NRR (+0.276). — PTI
South Africa would look to boost their net-run-rate with a big win against struggling qualifier Netherlands in a Group 1 Super 10 match here on Thursday.
After scraping to a narrow two-run win over New Zealand, riding on heroics of Dale Steyn, South Africa now have a chance to improve on the negative net run-rate (-0.075) as they are unlikely to be challenged by the minnows.
With one defeat and a win, South Africa are placed third with two points and tomorrow is their chance to move up before they face more serious challenge in England on Saturday.
New Zealand too are on two points with similar results but they are placed second due to a better NRR (+0.276). — PTI
Credit for my comeback goes to my wife and Lillee: Johnson
New Delhi, March 26
But, only a year ago, Johnson was almost dropped from the Cricket Australia’s (CA) elite players’ contract list and was not even part of the Australian squad which toured England for the 2013 series.
Injuries to fellow pacers James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc in the 2013-14 series opened the doors for Johnson and he blew away the England challenge with his lethal combination of short-pitched bowling and speed.
So, how did this turnaround happen? Here’s the man, whose intimidating pace was a key factor in the Ashes sweep and the match-winning performances in the Test series win in South Africa, himself explaining the process behind his return. “I had a surgery on my big toe in 2012 which put me out of action for a year. I guess it helped me to find my rhythm back as I was able to get away from cricket. It helped me to concentrate on my fitness, work on my line and length. I changed my run-up, making it longer and brought some change to my action,” Johnson told The Tribune in an interview.
Johnson had picked up the injury while batting in the second Test against South Africa in November 2012. He was diagnosed with an injury to his ligaments, commonly referred to as ‘turf toe’.
The belligerent pacer credited his wife Jessica Bratich Johnson, a former model and karate black belt, and Australian fast bowling great Dennis Lillee for his transformation. “My wife stood like a rock by my side. Without her, it would not have been possible. Another person I would like to mention here is Dennis. He invested his time and effort in me so that I could again play international cricket. He pushed me to the limit. I thought I would never get to play Test cricket again but his encouraging words helped me a lot,” he said.
Lillee had once described the left-arm pacer, when he was 17, as a “once-in-a-generation bowler”. When Johnson’s stocks plummeted in 2011, when he finished with just 13 wickets at an average of 56.62, CA had been urged by former pacers to employ Lillee to mentor the paceman.
Johnson, who would be seen plying his trade for Kings XI Punjab in Indian Premier League 7, has recovered from his infected toe, which had ruled him out of the ongoing T20 World Cup.
The infection had affected his right leg and it was a race against time for Johnson to get fit for the IPL. “I was managed by a team of medical specialists. The infection is gone now. I am working on strengthening up my muscles. So, everything is looking good and I am looking forward to playing my part.”
The Punjab franchise boasts of high-profile names in their line-up like Virender Sehwag. “Sehwag is an exceptional player. He has dominated the Australian bowling in the past with his brutal hitting. I am glad that I would be only bowling to him in the nets. He is a valuable player who brings a lot of experience,” Johnson said.
“We have a balanced side, with George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell. I am looking forward to leading the bowling department and helping youngsters. Rishi Dhawan has really impressed me with his recent performances.”
Mumbai, March 26
Manohar, who was succeeded as BCCI president by Srinivasan, was also critical of the decision to stage a part of the 2014 IPL in the UAE next month, which he says “will further tarnish the already murky waters surrounding the tournament”.
“Considering the latest developments in the BCCI, it is my opinion that until the faith of the people in the integrity of the game is restored, the IPL tournament for the 2014 should be suspended. The board members should remind themselves that money/profits is not the aim of the board. The primary duty is to promote a clean game of cricket.”
He said in view of the serious allegations, regarding betting, spot-fixing and match-fixing, the public at large has lost it’s faith in IPL games. “I had said long back, when the scandal broke, that all IPL matches should be investigated. Only then can all the erring parties be punished and the clean-up initiated. What has been revealed lately could well be the tip of the iceberg. A thorough probe needs to be done by CBI as the canvas of the activities extends throughout the country,” he said. — PTI
New Delhi, March 26
“My view was very clear from last one year. In the first meeting in Chennai I had said the same thing. I have been writing in my blog. He should have resigned long time back. He decided to continue and now it has reached a stage where the Supreme Court had to intervene,” Bindra said.
“Indian cricket has been brought to this far by Srinivasan and some of his friends in the Board. It is unfortunate that the highest court had to intervene.” — PTI
90 per cent poll respondents want Srinivasan to quit
Mumbai: An overwhelming number of people who have responded to an online poll in a popular cricket website want N Srinivasan to resign from his post after the Supreme Court asked him to quit yesterday. According to the online response in 'Cricinfo' to a question whether Srinivasan should quit, close to 90 per cent of people (14524 persons) had replied in the affirmative by noon today. — PTI
All eyes and ears on cricket’s ‘greedy dictator’
Mirpur, March 26
The Supreme Court order on the BCCI chief seems to have caught the imagination of everyone concerned with cricket all over the world. The world media at the T20 World Cup has been posing these questions to the Indian scribes, trying to stay updated on one of the most controversial administrators the game has ever seen.
Incidentally, no matter which country they come from, everyone seems to be hoping that the BCCI chief has no more aces up his sleeves and is forced to move out this time, for good.
“Well, he isn’t seen in a very favourable light back in the West Indies. Generally people view him as someone who wants to take over the world cricket, have an iron grip on everything,” said Vinode Mamchan, a senior reporter with Trinidad Guardian.
Coming from the West Indies, the opinion is a little surprising as the two boards share cordial relations and India have played quite a lot with West Indies in recent times. Yet, that hasn’t endeared the BCCI chief to the otherwise warm West Indians.
The vibes from Australia, one of the Big Three apart from India and England in the restructured order, are more or less the same. “His possible exit from the BCCI is a welcome sign… nobody wants a person in a position of power who is a dictator, is greedy for absolute power,” said Gaurav, an Australian journalist working with ABC Radio.
Bangladesh, too, isn’t in love with the man. “Our country didn’t like him for proposing the two-tier system, where we would have played in the lower tier. If he goes from the BCCI, I don’t think he should be allowed to get into the ICC either,” said Arifur Babu, a senior Bangladesh journalist.
Despite their being little support for the beleaguered BCCI chief, except in the BCCI, the restructured world order, his brainchild, will in all probability continue to exist.
“Look, the new order works fine for West Indies. We have played New Zealand and Bangladesh thrice in the last three years. It’s not profitable; it has left the WICB with a deficit. The India tours happened just because of the relations between the two boards,” said Mamchan.
“But in the new scenario, we can now tap into the Test fund when we host unprofitable tours. And with no FTP, we can have bigger tours. That’s why England was in West Indies before the T20 World Cup, and they will be back for Test series too.”
Sounds fine, at least at the moment.
Anand closes in on title
Khanty Mansiysk (Russia), March 26
With three rounds to go, Anand maintained his one-point lead over Levon Aronian of Armenia. With two games with white pieces to follow, there is little that can go wrong for the Indian ace.
On a pretty dull day, Russian Peter Svidler played out a draw with Aronian, Dmitry Andreikin signed peace with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, and Sergey Karjakin was held by Veselin Topalov. With all games ending in draws, the leaderboard did not see any change. This Euro 600,000 prize money tournament doubles up as the selection event for the next World Championship challenger.
Anand took his tally to 7 out of a possible 11 and Aronian remained his closest adversary with 6 points.
Kramnik chose the Catalan opening with white pieces and the pressure of having lost the last two games weighed heavy on the Russian. Anand opted for a quiet and fashionable system wherein Kramnik’s attempt to complicate matters did not see the light of the day.
In the early middle game, Anand had a pawn weakness and instead of a passive defence, he sacrificed it for active counter play. Kramnik played on with an extra pawn but had to give it back to release the tension. Soon peace was signed in just 31 moves. — PTI
Former captain Jude Felix named national coach
New Delhi, March 26
Felix will join the training camp of the senior men’s team at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the capital tomorrow for preparations of the FIH Men’s World Cup 2014, to be held at The Hague, Netherlands, from May 31 to June 15. He is appointed on a probationary period of three months and will work under chief coach Terry Walsh.
“I am coming with the vast years of my playing and coaching experience at different levels. I am confident that I will be able to make a contribution to players individually and team as a whole. Working with two great coaches in Roelant Oltmans and Terry Walsh, I am looking forward to learning from them and passing on the knowledge to as many coaches as possible in India,” said Felix.
Speaking on the appointment of Felix, Narinder Batra, secretary general, HI said, “We are pleased to appoint Jude Felix as the coach of the senior side. The players are very excited about the World Cup and are practising rigorously in the preparatory camp. The appointment of Felix will help the players to use his vast experience of playing at various international and domestic tournaments.”
Felix, an Arjuna Awardee (1995), was the captain of the Indian team during 1993-95 and also led the country in the 1993 World Cup and the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.
Felix has played more than 250 international matches and represented India in two Olympic Games (Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992), two World Cups (Lahore 1990 and Sydney 1994), two Asian Games (Beijing 1990 and Hiroshima 1994) and three Champions Trophy (Australia 1985, Pakistan 1987 and Germany 1989).
He has also worked as player-cum-coach with Racing Club in Paris (European league and French League) from 1997 to 2000. He was the coach of the Dutch U-18 national team in Leo Van Der Kar in 1997 and with Singapore Recreation Club during 1995-1997 and 2001-2011.
London, March 26
Manchester City took the lead after 43 seconds at Old Trafford and never looked back, exposing United’s soft centre almost at will with Dzeko and Yaya Toure netting in the second half to inflict another painful defeat on home boss David Moyes.
City, in ominous form after a 5-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, have moved into the slipstream of Chelsea and are three points behind the league leaders with two games in hand.
“It was an amazing game from the first to the last minute,” striker Dzeko later said. “We wanted to start playing our game early, to press high and get an early goal which we did.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was, like United’s Moyes, facing difficult questions after his side conceded a 90th-minute own goal from Mathieu Flamini to draw with struggling visitors Swansea on the back of a 6-0 thrashing at London rivals Chelsea.
It looked like Arsenal would claim all three points when second-half goals within a minute from Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud cancelled out Wilfried Bony’s opener.
Everton made it four wins in a row to maintain their own push for Europe as they beat Newcastle United 3-0 away with Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman all on target. — Reuters
Miami, March 26
Officials announced a suspicious package had been left near the main entrance to the sprawling tennis facility which was quickly locked down, keeping thousands of spectators from entering or leaving while Miami Dade police investigated.
The all clear was given just before Nadal stepped onto the Crandon Park centre court to face Fognini in the final match of the night.
The Spaniard showed no signs of being alarmed by the bomb scare as he completed the win in 62 minutes.
Nadal’s next opponent is Milos Raonic, who beat Benjamin Becker 6-3 6-4. Nadal’s great rival Federer was also in cruise control, needing just 49 minutes to dismiss Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-2.
Defending champion Murray, playing his first event since splitting with coach Ivan Lendl last week, disposed of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-1 without facing a single break point. Djokovic had only two break points the entire match but that was all the Serb needed, converting both chances on his way to a 6-3 7-5 win over Tommy Robredo.
Defending champion Serena Williams closed in on a seventh title with a 6-2 6-2 quarterfinal demolition of Angelique Kerber. Williams' win sets up a semifinal rematch of last year's final against Maria Sharapova, who advanced with an equally impressive 7-5 6-1 win over eighth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova. — Reuters
Berlin, March 26
Last season’s treble winners claimed their 23rd Bundesliga crown with a 10th straight away victory, stretching their winning streak to 19 consecutive league games and their unbeaten run to 52 league matches — all Bundesliga records.
“I am satisfied that we did it,” Spanish coach Pep Guardiola, in his first season in charge, said. “A game earlier or later does not matter. Congratulations to everyone at the club. Now we will go out to dinner and celebrate!” — Reuters
Kuala Lumpur, March 26
The Indian duo is determined to fire the first salvo in the battle of the intercontinental heavyweights when they take on Spain’s Gonzalo Fdez-Castano and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher in the opening fourball format.
Bhullar believes that Team Asia is prepared for the titanic battle ahead.
“It’s quite cool. We compete against each other very often on the Asian Tour and every week, we see different faces and nationalities but we are pairing up as a team for the first time,” he said. “We’re getting really comfortable with each other and are just waiting for the tournament to start.” — TNS
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