Not getting into swing of things, Virat on his knees
Help was on the way, but India refused to wait
Did India make it all too easy for Anderson?
Rory McIlroy chips onto the 12th green during the third round of the PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. AFP
archery world cup
Deepika Kumari won three medals, including a gold in the recurve team event. file
Serena gets a bitter lesson from elder sister
Serena Williams and Venus Williams hug after the semifinal, which Venus won, of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Saturday. AFP
Fed a win away from 80th title
Lahore Lions beat Vancouver Lions in World Kabaddi League
US teen Ledecky sets world record in 400m freestyle
Not getting into swing of things, Virat on his knees
Virat Kohli, the focal point of India’s failure in England, has endured a horror show. Over the last one month, he’s gone from a confident, smug-looking individual at the crease to a nervous wreck who doesn’t know where his offstump is.
Kohli has made 108 runs in eight innings here — that’s in sorry contrast to the figure of four centuries that Rahul Dravid had forecast for him on this tour. Kohli has survived just 216 balls and hit only 12 fours. The oxygen of fours cut off, and facing some tight bowling at an excellent length outside off, Kohli has responded in a depressing manner.
When batting, Kohli tends to shuffle across the wicket —this would make him an ideal candidate to fall LBW to quick bowlers. But Kohli has got a strong bottom-hand grip, and he’s got very quick hands — this enables him to escape the LBW trap by whipping the ball from middle down to the legside. However, the English bowlers have sorted him out in this series, swing kings Stuart Broad and James Anderson in particular. Anderson has got Kohli out four times in eight innings, and Broad has got him twice.
Kohli has scored seven runs against Anderson, and failed to score off him in three of the six innings he's faced him. England have bowled well outside off to him through this series, at a drive-able length. The ‘drive-able length’ is crucial, because due to this, Kohli is unable to leave balls on length/bounce, which he has done successfully abroad, notably in South Africa last year.
If Kohli had any inclination to leave deliveries, it must have been smothered by the way he lost his wicket to Liam Plunkett in the second innings of the second Test at Lord’s. There Kohli was out for a first-ball duck when he lifted his arms to leave a shortish ball, which jagged in and hit his stumps.
“I think that has broken his confidence about leaving the ball outside offstump,” says former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, now a commentator.
Another India stalwart, Rahul Dravid, says that Kohli’s strong right-hand grip has become a weakness.
“His timing is off, and he’s not been in good form,” says Dravid. “So he’s anxious, and he’s going for balls he should be leaving alone.”
Dravid believes that Kohli is a very anxious man right now. "Each failure builds up, and he's getting more anxious and the bottom hand is becoming tighter and tighter on the bat,” he says. “Rather than taking his left long down towards the stumps, he’s going across. When he gets his left leg across, the bat comes down at an angle. I think he’s not sure about his offstump, and he’s playing at balls that are way outside off.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes that Kohli’s trials are not far different from trials every top-class batsman must go through some time in his career.
In this scenario, what does a coach like Duncan Fletcher, considered cricket’s intellectual giant, do?
“When it comes to technical knowledge, I think Duncan has the most experience,” said Dhoni yesterday. “He has been helping Virat a lot, and also the other batsmen. However, Virat may be 23 or 24, but he has played cricket for some 14 years and has strong basics of his own. It’s tough to alter it in a few weeks or days.”
Dhoni said that in the nets, Kohli might be able to use the solutions suggested by Fletcher, but when he’s in the middle, it could be difficult. “Once you go into the middle, there is pressure on you and you miss a few deliveries, so the first thing you do is to go back to your basics,” Dhoni said. “That’s your instinct. It will take a bit of time.”
Down 1-2 and only one Test two go, time is one thing Kohli doesn’t have.
Virat’s horror run in England
1st Test: NottinghamKohli c Bell b Broad 1 (6m, 8b) Edged a ball that pitched
outside off and straightened Kohli lbw b Broad 8 (39m 29b 1x4) Out LBW to one that was pitched full and came in 2nd Test: London
Kohli c Prior b Anderson 25 (39m 34b 4x4) Edged a ball that angled in and moved away, caught by wicketkeeper Kohli b Plunkett 0 (1m 1b) First up, Kohli left a ball that came in and broke the stumps 3rd Test: Southampton
Kohli c Cook b Anderson 39 (119m 75b 3x4) Ball was at a length and moved away, Kohli edged to first slip Kohli c Buttler b Ali 28
(77m 56b 3x4) Kohli attacked a flighted ball, edged to the wicketkeeper 4th Test: Manchester
Kohli c Cook b Anderson 0 (1m 2b) A good outswinger, Kohli chased it into the hands of slip Kohli c Bell b Anderson 7
(17m 11b 1x4) Kohli pushed at a ball outside off, caught at slip
1st Test: NottinghamKohli c Bell b Broad 1 (6m, 8b)
Edged a ball that pitched outside off and straightened
Kohli lbw b Broad 8 (39m 29b 1x4)
Out LBW to one that was pitched full and came in
2nd Test: London Kohli c Prior b Anderson 25 (39m 34b 4x4)
Edged a ball that angled in and moved away, caught by wicketkeeper
Kohli b Plunkett 0 (1m 1b)
First up, Kohli left a ball that came in and broke the stumps
3rd Test: Southampton Kohli c Cook b Anderson 39 (119m 75b 3x4)
Ball was at a length and moved away, Kohli edged to first slip
Kohli c Buttler b Ali 28 (77m 56b 3x4)
Kohli attacked a flighted ball, edged to the wicketkeeper
4th Test: Manchester Kohli c Cook b Anderson 0 (1m 2b)
A good outswinger, Kohli chased it into the hands of slip
Kohli c Bell b Anderson 7 (17m 11b 1x4)
Kohli pushed at a ball outside off, caught at slip
Help was on the way, but India refused to wait
Manchester, August 10
Hurricane Bertha, brewing and travelling across the Atlantic, could have been the saviour of the Indian team in the fourth Test. Its effect on Manchester today was significant. Rain and winds lashed and swept Manchester right from early morning. The Old Trafford ground, as was clear in the first evening, doesn't have the best drainage in England — if India had played out the 61 overs they had been confronted with yesterday, they could have saved the Test.
However, the Indians were in no mood to be saved — they were out in just 43 overs. James Anderson had been unwell, Stuart Broad was out of action due to a broken nose; Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan, five Tests between them before this one, were friendly and bland.
But the Indians played mindless strokes to go down by an innings and 54 runs. It's easy to analyse the faults, it's difficult to peep into their brains, fathom how and why a bunch of well-trained professionals could play like amateurs out for an afternoon of fun in the sun.
Wasn't the team aware that if they'd batted through that last session yesterday — in which they lost nine wickets for 128 in 28 overs — the rain just might have saved them?
"It does not really matter what is coming tomorrow," Mahendra Singh Dhoni said yesterday. "We have to go through what was today and we did not manage that."
But really, couldn't the batsmen have been instructed to apply themselves better, to hang in there? "We are here talking about a set of batsmen well experienced…" Dhoni said. "We tell them to break each session into small sessions of half an hour and set small targets for them to achieve. That helps you to achieve what you want to, bat 60 overs in this case. If you look at 60 overs, it's a big target. You need to break this into four-five overs and set a target to achieve."
The captain thinks that the batsmen didn't need to be instructed; the coach, Duncan Fletcher, is a thinker of rare genius, it's alleged — yet, the Indian batsmen, walking at the edge of a precipice, chose to jump merrily into it.
Gautam Gambhir tickled a harmless delivery, going behind his back, into the hands of the wicketkeeper; Ajinkya Rahane tried to attack Moeen Ali and handed him an easy catch; Virat Kohli, fidgety and anxious, looking a nervous parody of his confident self, pushed hard outside off and edged Anderson.
Most baffling was the attitude of Ravindra Jadeja, multiple triple-centurion in first class cricket. In at 61/5, with about 36 overs to see through the day, down he comes second ball, to James Anderson, of all people, to smash a four!
Just what was Jadeja thinking? Anderson loved it and nearly laughed his head off. It's quite a joke - Anderson must have thought he can bat better than the Indian triple-tonner. The England No. 11 had played 130 balls, for 81 runs, to rescue England in the first Test.
Shane Warne, commenting on the match, said he was bewildered by India's methods. “The batting was just awful,” he said. “The batsmen lacked application and they simply surrendered. This was the quickest pitch in the series, so it doesn't bode well for their Australia tour later this year.”
Warne also found Dhoni's captaincy quite strange and mystifying. “When they started in the morning, England were 85 ahead but India were still in the game,” he said. “So why would you start with Pankaj Singh? You need to start with your most threatening bowler, perhaps Varun Aaron.”
The Jadeja-Anderson abuse-push-shove row, which ended with Anderson getting away scotfree, may have left the Indian team feeling badly let down by their own cricket board. Anderson abused Jadeja and pushed him, a judicial commission concluded. Yet, Anderson got away — and the Indian cricket board chose not to exercise its power to ensure justice was done, as it did six years ago in the Monkeygate affair in Sydney.
After Monkeygate subsided, India beat Australia in the Perth Test on the quickest wicket they got on tour. After Pushgate, India lost to England gutlessly, on the quickest wicket they got on tour. Bertha was rendered immaterial.
Did India make it all too easy for Anderson?
Manchester, August 10
Yes, right, but India won the toss and elected to bat first. They practically lost the match when they were down at 8/4 in the first hour of play; they lost it completely when the young pair of James Root and James Buttler added 130 for the sixth wicket after England were down to 140/5.
Geoffrey Boycott, the former Indian captain, believes that India should have bowled first after winning the toss. “You play according to the conditions, not to some pre-conceived notions,” Boycott says. “The toss was important and Dhoni made a terrible mistake by batting first and losing all those wickets.” We asked Kapil Dev what he thought. “It’s very easy to analyse something after it’s over,” he says. He says records suggest that if you win the toss at Old Trafford, you bat.
He’s right. In the 76 Test matches that have been played at the ground, on 68 occasions the team that won the toss opted to bat first; 26 times, this resulted in victory for that team.
On eight occasions, teams decided to bowl first after winning the toss — and on seven of those eight occasions, the match ended in a draw, and once the team that won the toss lost the match.
Imran Khan tried this in 1987, when he won the toss and chose to bowl first after rains had left the pitch wet. Yet, England made 447. But half the game was lost due to rain and the match ended in a draw. Kapil says that if MS Dhoni had bowled first and conceded a massive score – the pitch had no devils in it, just a bit of pace and bounce – he would have been criticised heavily by the media.
Sanjay Manjrekar believes that batting first — even against the dangerous James Anderson in conditions likely to assist him — was the right thing to do. “Yes, that was the right thing to do,” he says. “India reached a total of 152, and if they had not lost four for eight in the first hour, I think they’d have made 250-300…” Manjrekar, though, agrees Dhoni’s decision may have been forced by his raw bowling attack. “A draw was possibly the best option for India on this wicket, with the bowling attack they had,” he says.
Pankaj Singh had been wicketless on debut in Southampton; Varun Aaron — who proved a terrific pick, incidentally — had played only Test, over 32 months ago; Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a sore back and an injured ankle. A frail attack indeed. Dhoni wished, thus, to bat first, pile up a massive total, put England under pressure. However, Anderson and Broad had India on the rack soon enough, and that was that.
McIlroy fends off a series of challenges to keep his position at the top after the penultimate round
LOUISVILLE (USA), August 10
A stroke in front overnight heading into what is traditionally known as ‘moving day’, the British Open champion birdied three of the last four holes on a receptive, rain-sodden Valhalla Golf Club layout to card a four-under 67.
In pursuit of a third consecutive victory on the PGA Tour, McIlroy fended off a series of challenges to keep his position at the top of a tightly congested leaderboard as he posted a 13-under total of 200 in the year’s fourth and final major.
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, one of six players who held at least a share of the lead in a wildly fluctuating third round, was alone in second place after matching the day’s best score with a 65.
“It’s not the biggest lead I’ve ever had, but I’m still in control of this tournament,” said world No. 1 McIlroy, who had been two strokes clear after seven holes before bogeying the par-three eighth. “It’s a great position to be in going into tomorrow.”
McIlroy was delighted with his finish to the round, sinking a 20-footer on 15, a two-footer on 16 and getting up and down from a greenside bunker to birdie the par-five last. “I just knew that I needed to make a couple coming down the back nine to keep the lead I had or at least be tied for the lead going into tomorrow,” said the 25-year-old Northern Irishman.
“The two birdies on 15 and 16 were huge. To get up and down out of the bunker on 18 was big. It’s not like it’s that huge of a difference between tied for the lead and being one ahead going into tomorrow, just sort of makes you feel better about yourself going to bed tonight.”
Surprise package Wiesberger, who had missed the cut in four of his previous five major appearances, was still coming to terms with his lofty position going into the final round. “I didn’t expect any of this really coming into this week,” said the 28-year-old from Vienna, a two-time winner on the European Tour. “I knew I was prepared well and the course really suits my eye. So far I’ve taken advantage of this and it’s great to finish the round with three birdies in a row, basically tap-in birdies as well.”
“That gives me hopefully good momentum going into tomorrow. It’s a new situation for me in a major championship.”
American ‘young gun’ Rickie Fowler, a top-five finisher at each of the year’s previous three majors, was at 11 under after firing a 67 with 2005 PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson (67) and Australian Jason Day (69) a further stroke adrift.
Left-hander Mickelson, who played with Wiesberger in the third round, vaulted into contention for a sixth career victory in the majors with four birdies in the last five holes. “It’s so fun for me to be back in the thick of it, have a chance, being in contention heading into Sunday,” said the American. “My game feels so close to clicking. And when I say clicking, shooting really low.”
Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (67) and Swedish world number four Henrik Stenson (67) were among a group of four at nine under on a high-quality leaderboard that sets up an intriguing battle for the title. — Reuters
Kolkata, August 10
Deepika herself won three medals today as she also bagged a bronze each in the recurve women’s individual event and the recurve mixed team pair event with her partner Jayanta Talukdar.
The men’s recurve team settled for a silver after losing to Mexico 3-5 in the final. The Indian compound mixed pair of Abhishek Verma and Puvasha Shende had clinched a silver medal last night.
In the women’s recurve team event, the second seeded trio of Deepika, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi routed Mexico 6-0 without surrendering a single set point. Deepika shot three of the Indian team’s five 10s.
“The match was not too difficult. Hopefully we can do the same at the Asian Games,” said Deepika.
“This event has already raised our confidence. We have had a difficult season, but the hard work we have put in ahead of Incheon is starting to pay off.”
The Indian trio had earlier trounced their opponents from Georgia 6-2 in the semifinals.
In the men’s recurve team final, however, the Indian trio of Tarundeep Rai, Jayanta Talukdar and Atanu Das lost to Mexico 3-5. Mexico took a 2-0 lead and never looked back. India trailed 2-4 in the fourth set with Mexico’s anchor archer Juan Rene Serrano only needing a red to seal the match.
The only right-handed archer in Mexico’s team, Juan Rene shot last in the trio’s rotation and he did not make any mistake.
It was the second World Cup stage team gold for Mexico. The other was won at Medellin last year. — PTI
Montreal, August 10
The meeting marked the 25th time the sisters had squared off but the first time Venus had come out on top since a 2009 semifinals encounter in Dubai.
World No. 1 Serena holds a 14-11 lead in their head-to-heads after coming out on top in their previous five encounters, including the 2009 Wimbledon final. Clashes between the pair, which at one time were an almost regular and welcome occurrence on tennis courts around the world, have become rare and their meeting in Montreal was just the second since the 2009 Tour championships.
The siblings have won 106 WTA Tour singles titles, including 24 grand slams, between them. “It was a tough match out there,” said Venus, who will meet Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in Sunday’s final.
Third seed Radwanska beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 7-6(1) 7-6(3) to advance to her second final of the year.
“I don’t think we played for a number of years, as well. It’s not like we’ve been playing year in and year out,” added Venus.
“I definitely expected a tough match. She played well. She hit so many aces. What’s so unique about the situation is that we’re both very good players. I think typically you may have some siblings, one is quite good, one is not as good, so you kind of know what the result is, or the one that’s better knows they’re going to win.”
While a Williams-Williams matchup is one tennis fans have always looked forward to, for the sisters it is something they could live without.
There was little excitement when the match was over, the two players walking slowly to the net and hugging briefly.
Venus’s reaction at ending her sister’s Rogers Cup title defense was muted as she turned and offered a small wave to the crowd before slumping into her courtside chair and staring blankly across the court.
If losing to her sister stung Serena, she hid it well.
“For me it was just a regular match,” she shrugged. “Obviously she’s my sister but I still want to go out there and try to play well and try to win.” — Reuters
Sania-Cara in final
Sania Mirza and Cara Black survived a thriller in the semifinals as they carved out a hard-earned 7-6(3) 3-6 13-11 victory to set up a Rogers Cup doubles final against top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. The fourth-seeded pair knocked out the second seeds Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei and China’s Peng Shuai in a contest that lasted an hour and 50 minutes. With this victory, Sania and Cara ended a three-match losing streak in their head-to-head with Hsieh and Peng. — PTI
Toronto, August 10
Standing between Federer and another trophy is Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who claimed his third straight upset by dispatching seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-3.
After knocking off world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round, twice champion Andy Murray in the quarters and Dimitrov in the semifinals, the powerful Frenchman will need to produce one more upset to deny Federer a third Canadian title.
It will be Federer’s 120th career final while Tsonga will be playing for a title for the 20th time.
“I think it was a matter of time that he got it all together again, especially in terms of confidence,” said the second seeded Swiss, who is looking for his third title of the season. “So for him to beat Murray and Djokovic... it’s a really good effort for him and it’s going to give him loads of confidence going into the final.”
Federer, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday, was in imperious form, dropping just four points on his serve in taking the opening set.
He kept up the pressure in the second with a break to open the set and was never seriously challenged. — Reuters
London, August 10
The team, which landed in the city past midnight and faced its fair share of logistical problems due to the late arrival, looked completely unfazed as it trounced Vancouver in a thoroughly professional performance.
Lahore emerged triumphant 74-61 in the match.
Amid rather amusing scenes of British cheergirls dancing to the tunes of Punjabi Bhangra songs after every point scored, the Pakistanis, most of whom a part of their national team, displayed a wide variety of tricks in raiding and sheer physical dominance in stopping to outplay Vancouver.
Shafiq Ahmed Chisti was the Man of the Match. The burly raider from Sahiwal logged in 21 points. — PTI
Irvine (US), August 10
The 17-year-old Ledecky clocked 3 minutes, 58.86 seconds to better the previous record of 3:59.15 held by Italy’s Federica Pellegrini. The Italian’s mark was set in 2009 before high-tech polyurethane swimsuits were banned. Ledecky, who became the first American to hold the 400, 800 and 1,500m freestyle world records at the same time since Janet Evans, took her latest record-breaking performance in stride.
“Honestly, I didn’t think about it too much,” the 2012 Olympic 800m freestyle champion said. “I just wanted to put together a good swim. I did, so I’m happy.”
Phelps, meanwhile, made a slow start and was never in contention in the 100m backstroke as Olympic and world champion Matt Grevers won in 52.75, the third fastest time in the world this year. On the comeback trail after coming out of retirement, Phelps was more than a second behind in 53.95 though given the event has never been one of his strongest. — Reuters
India lacked mental strength to fight: Vaughan
Former England skipper Vaughan said “India were simply embarrassing” as they did not have the mental strength or character to fight under pressure. “They have been brought up facing orthodox off spin but they made it look as though Moeen Ali was bowling hand grenades and folded abysmally. They just gave up under pressure, they threw in the towel. For the past two weeks it looks to me as if India have been fighting too many battles off the pitch and have forgotten to fight on it,” Vaughan wrote in his column.
Sri Lanka win first Test as Pakistan crumble to Herath
Herath took six for 48 as Pakistan crumbled to 180 allout in their second innings, leaving Sri Lanka to chase 99 for victory in 21 overs in a contest that looked to be heading for a draw at the start of the final day.
Sri Lanka got there with 4.4 overs to spare with skipper Angelo Mathews, who hit an unbeaten 25, stroking the winning runs to spark off celebrations around the ground.
Brief scores: Pakistan 451 (Younis 177, Shafiq 75, Perera 5-137) and180 (Sarfraz 52*, Herath 6-48);Sri Lanka 533 for 9 dec (Sangakkara 221, Mathews 91, Ajmal 5-166; and 99 for 3)
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