Monday, May 31, 2010

Liverpool Are Still Massive

Anfield legend Alan Hansen has declared that reports of Liverpool's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Reports of Anfield in crisis have been emanating since last year, when the Reds' season started to implode and news of financial problems made its way into the public sphere.

Former greats of the club seem to be split down the middle about the Merseysiders' prospects in the near future. Hansen is firmly in the bullish camp.

Speaking to Radio City he said: "Liverpool are still Liverpool - they're still massive and they still have the greatest support in the world.

"Liverpool have got to forget what's gone before and concentrate on what's ahead of them.

"It's going to be difficult but I'd look at 1986-87 when Everton won the league and we came second. I knew we were a long way short. Kenny Dalglish knew that too and he brought in Barnes, Beardsley, Aldridge, Spackman and Houghton.

"That turned it around like you'd never believe. We went from not being nearly good enough to being a great side.

"Hopefully that can happen to this Liverpool side because they've got some great players. If they can just get two or three more in who can do a job."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

England Beats Bangladesh

England clinched an eight-wicket win over Bangladesh on the fifth day of the first test at Lord's on Monday.

Set a victory target of 160 after Bangladesh was dismissed for 382 in its second innings at the end of the morning session, England comfortably made it to 163-2, with captain Andrew Strauss hitting 82.

Bangladesh began the day on 328-5 _ with a lead of 105 _ but Steven Finn (5-87) and Tim Bresnan (3-93) combined to dismiss the tail. Junaid Siddique, who batted for more than four hours, impressed for the visitor with 74.

England lost Alastair Cook (23) and Strauss during the run chase but Jonathan Trott (36 not out) and Kevin Pietersen (10 not out) saw the team home.

England took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. The second test begins at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Friday.

Given the hostility generated by James Anderson during the last five overs on Sunday, it was perhaps surprising to see England hand the new ball to Finn and Bresnan as it looked to wrap up Bangladesh's second innings.

After just two overs, Bresnan was replaced by Anderson at the Nursery end but it took 40 minutes for England to make a breakthrough. Finn in particular was struggling to keep his footing at the Pavilion end, where he repeatedly fell over.

Yet with the first ball of the 10th over, Shakib Al Hasan (16) tried to cut a ball from the Middlesex paceman and was caught by Eoin Morgan at point.

In his next over, Finn bowled a slower ball to Siddique, who was easily caught in the covers by Bresnan.

Finn claimed his third wicket in 15 balls an over later, when Mushfiqur Rahim (0) was caught behind by Matt Prior.

Mahmudullah was on 14 when he was dropped at third slip by Bresnan after edging a delivery from Anderson.

Bresnan atoned by claiming the final two wickets of the innings. He had Rubel Hossain (4) caught at second slip by Strauss and ended the morning session with a chest-high delivery that Mahmudullah (19) nudged to Prior.

England made a quick start to the run chase, with Strauss hitting four fours from his first nine balls.

Strauss had a narrow escape on 28 when he edged a Mahmudullah delivery through Siddique's legs, but England's progress was temporarily slowed when Cook was out lbw for 23 to the same bowler, bringing Trott to the crease.

Strauss reached his 50 off 50 balls in the 20th over but was caught by Mushfiqur Rahim off Shakib three overs before tea was due to be taken.

Successive boundaries by Pietersen took England to the brink of victory and Trott sealed it with a four to square leg.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Third Notice to Modi given By BCCI

There is simply no respite for suspended IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi as the BCCI today served a third showcause notice on him over grant of theatrical rights and on the issue of advertisements in between deliveries during the telecast of IPL matches this season.

"A third notice has been served on Mr Modi over theatrical rights in IPL," BCCI sources said today.

The sources added that the 150-second airtime slot when the ball was not in play that the IPL had sold did not bring in the promised financial benefits to the Board and it was on Modi's suggestion that the 150 seconds was commercially exploited.

Modi has already been served two notices. The first notice was sent soon after the conclusion of IPL 3 after he was suspended from his post by the BCCI and the second one was served on May 6 based on an e-mail sent to the Board by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Chairman Giles Clarke.

In his e-mail, Clarke levelled serious charges against Modi that the Board found "detrimental to Indian cricket, English cricket and World cricket at large."

On November 12, 2009, IPL had announced that Entertainment & Sports Direct (ESD) has made the highest bid of Rs 330 crore for its theatrical rights to matches in the league to be played in seasons 2010 through to 2019.

The deal would give ESD the exclusive exhibition rights for audiences in cinema halls, stadia, water borne vessels, buses, trains, armed service establishments, hospitals, bars, hotels, restaurants, airports, railway stations, shopping malls, offices, construction sites, oil rigs, clubs, auditoriums, spas, salons and other similar public venues, as per the announcement.

"Two bids were received for the theatrical rights tender from Triplecom Media and ESD. The theatrical rights bid by ESD was of Rs 330 crore which was the highest," the media release issued by IPL had said.

The reserve price for the bid has been set at USD two million per year, the only restriction being that a Multiplex cannot screen a match being played in that city on the day.

Modi had expressed his delight at the deal and said that "after a fair and transparent process, we have what we believe to be the best theatrical telecast deal for the Indian Premier League and its fans across India."

ESD, promoted by DAR Capital Group, an investment advisory and private equity firm, is a company focused on sports and entertainment related content acquisition for which it has signed up with UFO Moviez and Valuable Media for theatrical and public exhibition in India and key-global markets, a media release had said.

Friday, May 28, 2010

India Makes A Comeback Win Against Lankans

Rohit Sharma hammered his second successive ODI century as India crushed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in their second match to put their campaign back on track in the cricket tri-series here on Sunday.

Chasing 243, India made a rather slow start and lost both their openers inside 10 overs before one-down Virat Kohli (82) and Rohit (101 not out) resurrected the innings to help India romp home with 6.3 overs to spare at the Queens Sports Club.

Earlier, the tidy Indian bowlers produced a disciplined effort to bundle out Sri Lanka for 242 after captain Suresh Raina had opted to field.

Today's win also marked Raina's first victory as captain.

Coming together in the 10th over, Kohli and Rohit added 154 runs from 168 balls for the third wicket to take the game away from Sri Lanka.

Rohit, who hit 114 against Zimbabwe in India's first match though for a lost cause, hit six fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 100-ball, his second ODI century in his 44th match.

He got a superb support from Kohli whose 82 came from 92 balls with the help of four boundaries.

After opening bowler Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis achieved early success by removing Murali Vijay (14) and Dinesh Karthik (18) respectively, the Sri Lankan bowlers were left high and dry with Kohli and Rohit stamping authority.

The duo initially dealt mostly in singles with occasional boundaries before opening up later on. They also did not allow the asking rate to jump over five.

Rohit took 60 balls to reach his fifty which came of a single off Ajantha Mendis in the 28th over and Kohli reached his seventh half-century an over later with a single off Dilhara Fernando.

Kohli, however, perished in the 38th over while trying to finish the game early. He came down the track to play a lofted shot off a Suraj Randiv delivery only to hole out to long-on fielder Dilhara Fernando.

When Kohli fell, India needed just 42 runs from more than 12 overs and Rohit ensured that they wrapped up the match without any hiccup.

Rohit took a four off Mendis in the 43rd over to reach his second successive ODI century while Raina hit the winning runs in the next over.

India, who lost their opening match against Zimbabwe on Friday, play the hosts again in their next match on Thursday at Harare Sports Club.

Earlier, save for Angelo Mathews (75) and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan (61), the Lankan batsmen struggled for runs under tight Indian bowling after they were put into bat.

The Lankan innings eventually folded for 242 in 49.5 overs with three of their batsmen running themselves out.

Except for rookie Umesh Yadav (1/61), all the Indian bowlers bowled tight spells with Ashok Dinda (2/44), Pragyan Ojha (2/44) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/49) taking two wickets apiece.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was also economical, conceding 40 runs from his 10 overs though without taking a wicket.

The Lankans were dealt an early blow when Upul Tharanga (1) became the first to get run out.

After hitting an Ashok Dinda delivery to the covers, Tharanga was left stranded when Virat Kohli, who initially fumbled in collecting the ball, threw it accurately at the Lankan's end while he was attempting a third run.

Thilan Samaraweera (19) didn't last long either and was stumped by Dinesh Karthik while trying to charge at a Pragyan Ojha delivery.

Dilshan and Mathews then steadied the ship and put on 58 runs for the third wicket before the Sri Lankan skipper became the second Lankan batsmen to be run out.

Dilshan, whose 81-ball knock comprised four boundaries and a six, took off for a single after hitting Mishra to the square leg but rushed back after a couple of strides only to find himself short of ground as the bowler had dislodged the bails by then.

But Mathews held one end together with a gritty knock that included a couple of sixes and an equal number of fours. His prized wicket ultimately went to Umesh Yadav, who bowled him.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja bagged two late wickets in Chamara Kapugedera (20) and Chamara Silva (5) to make sure that the Lankan innings never took off.

Thissara Perera's late 32-run cameo down the order did, however, help the Lankan to go past the 200 mark.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Zimbabwe Storms India to Defeat

Rohit Sharma's maiden ODI century went in vain as a slipshod India slumped to an embarrassing six-wicket defeat against Zimbabwe in the first match of the cricket tri-series here on Friday.

Rohit's well-paced 114 and Ravindra Jadeja's unbeaten run-a-ball 61 had guided India to a decent 285 for five but the lack of sting and firepower in their bowling attack allowed Zimbabwe to romp home with 10 balls to spare.

Chasing the formidable target, Brendan Taylor (81) and Hasan Masakadza (46) gave Zimbabwe a rollicking start and down the order debutant Craig Ervine (67 not out) dazzled as the hosts cruised to 289 for four in 48.2 overs.

India play Sri Lanka in their next match on Sunday.

Zimbabwe's chase got off to a strong start with Taylor and Masakadza showing scant respect for their opponents and adding 88 runs in 13 overs.

Three Indians made their ODI debut today but neither Ashok Dinda, nor R Vinay Kumar or Umesh Yadav could make their presence felt as Taylor and Masakadza exposed the frailties of the Indian attack.

Taylor hit Vinay Kumar for two sixes and a four in the 10th over and the partnership was blooming with a 100-mark in sight when Amit Mishra's googly castled Masakadza.

Indian bowlers toiled for another 16 overs without any success before Jadeja trapped Graeme Lamb (27).

Taylor was looking good for a century but he fell to Vinay Kumar in the 35th over after a 103-ball knock that had four fours and two sixes in it.

Charles Coventry (32 off 25 balls) played like his wont, hitting Yusuf Pathan, Mishra and Vinay Kumar out of the ground before losing his stumps to the pacer.

Ervine, however, showed tremendous maturity in his debut match as he and skipper Elton Chigumbura (24 not out) completed the formality without any fuss.

Earlier electing to bat first, India were off to a smooth start with Murali Vijay (11) and Dinesh Karthik (22) forging a 56-run opening stand against the wayward Zimbabwean bowlers.

It was smooth sailing for the Indians till the ninth over when Vijay was run out which was a combination of Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor's brilliance and the opener's laziness.

Vijay was ambling towards the batting crease when Taylor collected a Prosper Utseya throw in front of the wicket and flicked it back-handed onto the stumps.

Next man in Virat Kohli's was a scoreless stay as the vice captain, without facing a ball, was beaten by an Elton Chigumbura direct-throw.

Another four runs on the board and Karthik too was back in the hut, falling to Utseya and leaving India in a spot of bother at 61 for three.

Rohit stitched together a 67-run stand with skipper Suresh Raina (37) to steady the ship but it was his 132-run partnership with Jadeja (61 not out) for the fifth wicket that turned out to be the cornerstone of the Indian innings.

Rohit's 119-ball knock was studded with six fours and four sixes, while Jadeja's run-a-ball innings had five fours in it.

Even when Rohit and Raina forged a steady partnership that took India past the 100-run mark, Zimbabwe's slow-ball attack ensured boundaries were not easy to come by.

Paceman Chris Mpofu broke the partnership by removing Raina in the 30th over as the India captain rushed down the track only to guide a rising delivery to the wicketkeeper.

Rohit, however, continued the good work in Jadeja's company as the duo stepped on gas, asserting themselves on the hosts.

Rohit's century came in the 47th over when he hit Ray Price out of the ground for a massive six.

In the next over, Mpofu removed Rohit but Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan (11 off 5 balls) provided the late charge to take the score to 285.

For the hosts, Mpofu scalped two wickets for 63 while Utseya bagged one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Afridi Ready for England Tour

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi has made himself available for the Test tour of England after ending his self-imposed exile from the format.

Afridi, who captains his country in Twenty20 cricket, has not played a Test since 2006 and has spoken in the past of his unsuitability for the longer form of the game.

But he now looks set to put himself back in the frame in time to face England later this summer.

Afridi's decision will be a huge boost to a side who are currently without Mohammad Yousuf, Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, following a spate of suspensions by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Afridi said: "It was a very hard decision for me because I have wanted to devote more time to my family and playing all forms of the sport all the year round has not been my cup of tea.

"That is why I avoided Test matches, but after speaking to my family I have decided to resume playing Test matches because it is the need of the time."

The 30-year-old is currently appealing against a fine imposed by the PCB for his bizarre attempts to bite a ball in a one-day match against Australia, an act that also earned him a two-match ban from the International Cricket Council.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Butt on Fire

Miffed at his dictatorial style of functioning, Pakistani senators today launched a verbal attack on PCB Chairman Ejaz Butt, saying that he must go.

"He is the cause of all problems and we would urge President Asif Zardari to spare Pakistan cricket from this man," Senator Humayun Akhtar said after a meeting with Butt here today.

During the meeting, Butt refused to honour a commitment from Wasim Bari, the PCB chief operating officer, that the Board would uphold its contractual terms with a construction company, involved in the construction of a new pavilion building at the Gaddafi stadium.

The PCB had refused to pay the amount demanded by the company which then took the case to the Senate Standing Committee on Sports for a resolution.

"On May 20, the PCB chief operating officer gave us in writing, commitments that they would resolve the issue with the company and pay them their dues. Butt didn't attend that meeting as he was not in the country
"Today when we called him he simply refused to accept the agreement and said the Board would not pay (the sum) to company. We don't understand what sort of institution is he running, it is a joke," Senator Tariq Azeem said.

Azeem said Butt was running a one-man show and this must stop as it was creating all the problems in Pakistan cricket.

"We want to know what steps the Board has taken to pursue suspicions and allegations about some of our players being involved in match-fixing. Why should the ICC be looking into this issue why is the board not conducting its own inquiry," Azeem said.

Senator Akhtar said that the Board should form its own judicial body to probe into the match-fixing allegations.

"We said it before that the Board must act on this issue but they have done nothing," he said.
Akhtar said that the Senators would be taking up the issue of match-fixing allegations with the chief patron soon and would ask him to order an independent probe.

In the leaked recordings of the PCB enquiry committee, former coaches Intikhab Alam and Aaqib Javed have reportedly talked about suspicions over the performance of Kamran Akmal and Rana Naved in some matches of the Australian tour early this year.

Meanwhile, the PCB appeals judge today asked Younis Khan to approach high court if the cricketer was not satisfied with the working of the appellate tribunal.

Justice (retd) Irfan Qadir, who is hearing the appeals of six cricketers against their bans and fines, adjourned hearing of Shoaib Malik appeal until May 29 and that of Rana Naved-ul Hasan to June 12.

The next hearing of Younis Khan's appeal is due to be heard on May 29.

Qadir had rejected Younis's appeal to conduct an open hearing and had also dismissed his request of suspension of his ban.

"If Younis is not satisfied with the way the appeal hearing is being held he has the right to go to the High Court," Justice Qadir told the media.

He said other players were not in favour of open hearing.

"The other players say that if the hearings are made open to the media it will result in more controversies and scandals and they are not comfortable with open hearings," Qadir said.

He further stated that he was keen to quickly dispose of the appeals of the players but the due process of law had to be followed.

The appeals judge also made it clear that he would not be summoning the members of the PCB inquiry committee for cross examination during the hearings.

"When the PCB is being represented by a lawyer there is no need to call committee members now. The lawyer is there to present the viewpoint of the board," he said.

He also pointed out that all available evidence material had been given to the players and their lawyers.

The PCB in March on the recommendations of its inquiry committee banned and fined seven players on various charges.

Exception for Muhammad Yousuf, who has announced his retirement from international cricket, all the other players have lodged appeals against the penalties.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New zealand wins comfortably

Scott Styris finished with figures of three for 10 as New Zealand cruised to a 28-run victory over Sri Lanka in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals in Florida.
The Pearls Cup Series, which is taking place at Central Broward Park in Lauderhill about 30 miles from Miami, is the first time two full International Cricket Council members have played a series in the United States.
And it was New Zealand who took a 1-0 lead in the series after Sri Lanka lost six wickets for just 30 runs thanks to the efforts of Styris as well as Kyle Mills (two for 17) and Andy McKay (two for 20).
Neither side particularly impressed with the bat, Ross Taylor and Angelo Mathews top scoring for New Zealand and Sri Lanka respectively as both reached 27 with Kumar Sangakkara the only other player from the latter to reach double figures.
The Black Caps made 120 for seven from their 20 overs to set their opponents what appeared to be an attainable target.
Brendon McCullum and Aaron Redmond shared an opening stand of 25 before the former was caught by Mathews off Nuwan Kulasekara for 18, his 13-ball innings including two fours and a six.
New Zealand lost a second wicket with just two more runs on the board when Redmond was caught by Lasith Malinga off the bowling off Mathews.
Rob Nicol and Ross Taylor shared a stand of 24 before the former was bowled by Suraj Randiv for 10.
Ajantha Mendis claimed the first of his two wickets when he bowled Scott Styris (10), Taylor was run out after making 27 off 30 balls and when Martin Guptill became Mendis' second victim (10) New Zealand found themselves at 94 for six.
Nathan McCullum fell for nine but Daniel Vettori eked out an unbeaten 21 and Mills two as New Zealand completed their innings with Mendis finishing with figures of two for 18 off four overs.
Such a target did not appear out of reach for Sri Lanka but they made a dreadful start when opener Mahela Jayawardene was out without any runs on the board, caught by McCullum off Mills.
Tillakaratne Dilshan became Mills' second victim for six with the score on 20.
Kumar Sangakarra made 17 before Styris struck for the first time when he removed Mathews (27) as Sri Lanka reached 62 for four.
However, this heralded a collapse as Sri Lanka lost their remaining six wickets for just 30 runs with two deliveries left in their innings.
The team's contribution with the bat was especially disappointing with just Mathews and Sangakarra reaching double figures.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Players busy with girls - Afridi

Pak T20 captain Shahid Afridi has alleged that some of his teammates were busy ogling girls and loafing around the boundary line, not giving their 100 per cent in the team's tour of Australia earlier this year.
The leaked video footage of Pakistan Cricket Board's investigations showed Afridi questioning the commitment of some of his teammates, even though he said all the talks about match-fixing is something he too has heard but never found any evidence of.
"Some of the players, once they have made some decent runs with the bat, would think their job is done and would go to field in the deep," Afridi was shown as speaking.
"There they would be busy chatting with the crowd, ogling girls and giving autographs. I have identified some players doing that. They just play for themselves," said Afridi, who was part of the team that lost five ODIs in Australia.
He was also critical of the then coach Intikhab Alam. "Coach told me to lead the team in the fifth ODI just 40 minutes before the match and put unnecessary pressure to win the toss.
"He said it would be all gloom and doom if we lose the toss. I interrupted him and asked why he was demoralising players even before the toss? Why it would be all gloom and doom even if we just lose the toss?" Afridi asked.
On whether some of his teammates were involved in match-fixing, Afridi said, "I can say that more than being beaten, we gave away those matches.
"About match-fixing, I too have heard but have no evidence," said the all-rounder.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bloody White remark made by Asif - New controversy

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Asif called Australian all-rounder Shane Watson a "bloody white" during the team's tour Down Under.
Raquib told a inquiry panel probing the disastrous tour that Asif narrowly escaped getting into another controversy after he directed racist remarks against Watson during a Test match.
"On the second day of the Test, Asif called Watson a 'bloody white'," Raquib is heard saying in a leaked video recording of the inquiry committee proceedings.
"In the evening Australian manager Steve Bernard contacted me and informed me that captain Ricky Ponting planned to hold a press conference. I reminded him that under ICC code of conduct such matters could not be discussed in public," Raquib told the committee members.
He said he kept the whole incident confidential as it would have created more problems for Pakistan cricket and Asif as the Australians could have gone after the player for making what they felt was a racist remark.
"You tell me what sort of comment is this. Thankfully Steve (Bernard) was cooperative after I reminded him that the series was being played in good spirit and sledging did take place on both sides," Raquib said.
The Pakistan manager narrated how the matter was closed when Asif agreed to go and shake hands with Watson after he had discussed the whole issue with Bernard outside the team hotel.
Raquib is heard lamenting the lack of education and common sense among Pakistani senior and junior cricketers narrating experiences of his stint as manager of the Pakistan under-19 team.
"They were members of the under-19 team who were asking for whisky on the flight," Raquib said.
He is also heard advising the inquiry committee members to have a system where players are penalised for poor performances.
"If Mohammad Aamir can get a lakh rupees for taking wickets why should he not be penalised for dropping a catch?" Raquib said.
He also thanked ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle for his handling of the controversy stemming from Shahid Afridi's crazy ball-biting during a one day match in Australia.
"There could have been greater penalties for Afridi but Madugalle had advised me to tell Afridi to accept that he had made a mistake," Raquib said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pietersen About T-20 Finals

Star batsman Kevin Pietersen hailed his England team-mates after their ICC World Twenty20 final victory over Australia in Barbados.
Pietersen was named man of the tournament after scoring 248 runs, including 47 in England's seven-wicket victory over their old enemies in today's final.

"It's been a pretty interesting week for me," said Pietersen, who flew back to London last weekend and became a father for the first time on Monday before returning to the Caribbean.

"I had a little kid on Monday and this trophy here.

"But this trophy goes to all the lads.

"They support each other and share each other's success.

"The more you play, the more you win and the more it becomes a habit, like the great Australians.

"This team is hungry for success, we want to win."

Craig Kieswetter, who was named man of the match for his 63 off 49 deliveries, won a trophy in his first competition as part of England's Twenty20 team.

The Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman said: "It's been a great experience, to play against the Australians in the final makes it all much better."

Kieswetter and Pietersen dovetailed effectively in the final, putting on 111 for the second wicket.

Kieswetter paid tribute to his more experienced team-mate.

He said: "It makes it a lot easier for me. It takes the pressure off and allows me to play quite freely."

Captain Paul Collingwood said the victory rivalled the 2005 and 2009 Ashes Test series successes over Australia.

Collingwood said: "It's right up there, it's got to be.

"This is our first World Cup we've ever won and the boys deserve it.

"We've put a lot of hard work and effort in and the boys are absolutely thrilled we came out today and put that performance in."

England's limited-overs performances have been criticised for some time and Collingwood attributed the improvements in his team to hard work.

He added: "We've got some good players in the side, the work ethic we've had over the past year and we're starting to see the results on the pitch.

"There's a lot of confidence in the side; you can see the belief that we've got going out on the pitch.

"The power that we've got, the thought processes the bowlers are using, the fielding, everything seems to be stronger."

Even when England had Australia on eight for three, Collingwood was not ruling out a response.

He said: "No chance. Not with what they did against Pakistan the other day (when Australia successfully chased a target of 192).

"Obviously if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best and it was a great performance.

"When we got those three wickets early doors we gave ourselves a great opportunity to put them under pressure.

"They fought back, put on a partnership and got themselves up to a score they could defend.

"But the way KP and Kieswetter took the attack to them, we deserved that victory."

Australia captain Michael Clarke was magnanimous in defeat.

"I don't think we scored enough runs," said Clarke. "I think you've got to give credit to England, they outplayed us today.

"We've played really well throughout the whole tournament.

"We're obviously disappointed in the final to not get the result but I think we should hold our heads high.

"Australia in Twenty20 are only going forward. We tried our best, we just got outplayed today.

"The way England were playing, we probably needed 200.

"They've had a wonderful tournament."

Collingwood hit the winning runs and finished unbeaten on 12.

Eoin Morgan was alongside his captain in the middle as the victory came and paid tribute to Kieswetter and Pietersen for setting up the win.

Morgan told Sky Sports 1: "It was a magnificent knock from Craig and Kevin and I didn't have much to do at the end.

"We're pretty happy with the performance and delighted with the win."

The former Ireland international added: "It's been fantastic, something I've always dreamed of."

Stuart Broad was also thrilled.

"It's such a special occasion for us," said the bowler. "We played well throughout the whole tournament.

"It's a huge thing to win a World Cup but the way we won it was so special as well."

Ryan Sidebottom, who took two for 26, said: "I just can't stop laughing.

"It's absolutely amazing."

Monday, May 17, 2010


England stormed to a seven-wicket victory over Australia at the Kensington Oval to break their 35-year duck in International Cricket Council tournaments.
The ease of England's success in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 made a mockery of previous failures, as and Craig Kieswetter  and Kevin Pietersen's stand of 111 helped them cruise past Australia's 147 for six - with three full overs to spare.
Kieswetter (63) hit six fours and a six in his 40-ball 50 and Pietersen was almost as dominant in a run chase which became no-contest long before captain Paul Collingwood clubbed the winning runs.

Both of England's second-wicket pair got out before the end, allowing Collingwood to appropriately shepherd his team to the previously elusive silverware.

Australia, hitherto unbeaten in this tournament, stumbled disastrously to eight for three in the third over after being put in on a pacy pitch.

David Hussey (59) oversaw a well-crafted recovery. But England had taken a telling advantage, and were in no mood to let it slip this time against the old enemy. Hussey shared a fifth-wicket stand of 50 with Cameron White and also combined to good effect with his brother Michael to help add 55 in the last five overs.
But the resulting total never looked enough, and in the end England made it seem woefully short.

Their only minor moments of discomfort came with an early departure of their own - Michael Lumb spearing a catch to mid-on off Shaun Tait - and then an embarrassing five-minute hiatus for the organisers as groundstaff struggled to fix a glitch with the sightscreen.

Australia: DA Warner, SR Watson, MJ Clarke (Captain), DJ Hussey, CL White, MEK Hussey, BJ Haddin (WK), SPD Smith, MG Johnson, SW Tait, DP Nannes

England: MJ Lumb, C Kieswetter (WK), KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood (Captain), EJG Morgan, LJ Wright, TT Bresnan, MH Yardy, GP Swann, SCJ Broad, RJ Sidebottom

Sunday, May 16, 2010

England Set For T-20 Finals

Paul Collingwood's England have a chance to make cricket history today - and the captain insists they are ready to do it.
Victory over a mighty Australia team at Kensington Oval will deliver the World Twenty20 title to England, and this country's first International Cricket Council tournament triumph too.
England have tried and failed for 35 years to do that, reaching four finals to no avail along the way.
But one more win - a fifth in succession at this tournament, against unbeaten opponents - will put Collingwood's Twenty20 team in a league of their own in English cricket, and allow the man himself to boast he has gone one better than illustrious predecessors Mike Brearley, Mike Gatting, Graham Gooch and Michael Vaughan.
The captain is confident too that he has the right personnel to rise to the challenge of writing a new chapter.
"There are a lot of guys in our side that haven't experienced finals - but I really do sense they are ready," he said.
"The guys seem very relaxed going into such a big occasion, and that's a great sign.
"I think if you have played in big matches it does help. But if you are fresh into a side and you don't know what it's all about it can sometimes help."
England watched on television in Barbados as Australia pulled off an astounding three-wicket win over Pakistan in St Lucia, where Michael Hussey unleashed a frightening array of huge hits in an unbeaten 60.
There is an alarming depth to Australia's batting, with Hussey coming in at number seven.
Yet Collingwood's England remain fearless.
"We always knew what Australia were capable of. Whoever we played against in the final were going to be a strong side.
"Nothing surprised us yesterday. All we can concentrate on is our game.
"There's plenty of confidence in our side, the way we've played throughout this tournament has given us a lot of belief.
"We believe we've got the skills to beat any side on the day."
England will not be toning down their gameplan, to dominate from the outset, either - even though carving sixes to all parts off the pace of Australia's new-ball pair Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes may prove a hazardous business on what is expected to be a quick surface.
New opening pair Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb will go out with the same orders they have played to all tournament, to try to get England off to a flier in powerplay.
"We've got a plan of action against every team. Right the way through the tournament, we have been very aggressive - and I don't want to change our mind-set going into the final," said Collingwood.
"There would be no reason at all to change anyone's mind-set in the 11 that are going to play today.
"That's why the guys are going to go out with confidence and belief and keep doing the things they have been doing well throughout this tournament.
"We have done it against fast bowlers, against (South Africa's Dale) Steyn and (Morne) Morkel - they are two very fast bowlers."
If there is an amendment it will come in which hitting areas to choose - against Tait's low-slung action and Nannes' whippy, tight lines - rather than whether to use the pace or attack it. "We have got different angles tomorrow," added Collingwood.
"That is probably the only thing we have got to contend with. But we have played against pace bowling before, and I believe the guys have got the skills to do it."
For many, the prospect of an 'Ashes' showdown will add an extra spice to tomorrow's match.
But Collingwood is putting the occasion first, and the opponents second.
"I don't think you need any extra motivation. This is a 'World Cup' final, no matter who you're playing against.
"This is what it's all about; this is why we play the game of cricket.
"This is literally the ultimate. You've got through to a 'World Cup' final; you're playing against the old enemy, Australia. It doesn't get much better than this.
"You're going to see two very good sides with a lot of confidence, going head to head."
Australia have rarely been tested in this Caribbean campaign, until they had to dig deep to sneak past Pakistan.
England, however, have also built up a winning habit - and with an unchanged team almost certain to take the field, Collingwood has an inkling they may yet have the edge in a heavyweight tussle.
"Belief is pretty much the key factor. We've gained a lot of that right the way through the tournament," he said.
"The confidence is sky high.
"But we haven't won anything yet - that's the thing. We've got to a final, but it means nothing until we win a 'World Cup'."
Collingwood did not even stick around to watch Australia beat Pakistan on television - because he had an appointment on the golf course, which he won.
That success, with West Indies coach Ottis Gibson against Kieswetter and James Anderson, underlined his belief that he is on a winning streak.
"There have been a couple of good omens for me out here," he said.
"The other day in the semi-final I walked out on to the pitch for the anthems with the young girl mascot I had to hold hands with.
"I said 'Hi my darling, what's your name then?' and she turned and said 'My name's Lucky' - so as soon as she said it I had a big smile on my face and thought 'What a great sign that is'.
"I love those sort of things that happen along the way, and it put a real feel-good factor into my mind as soon as I heard that."
Collingwood's copper top will have a shaggy look to it again tomorrow too - because he has decided against a haircut, for fear of jinxing England just when they need things to go right the most.
"I'm a little bit superstitious about things," he added.
"I was supposed to get my hair cut out here - and I know it looks atrocious - but once we got on a roll, I thought I can't get it cut until we've got home.
"I hope that will be with the trophy. I don't want to lose my strength!"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seeds Struggling

It was another bad day for the women's seeds at the Madrid Open - something that has become commonplace throughout the week.
Of the five seeds that made it through to Friday's quarter-finals, only number four Venus Williams will be present in the last four.
Williams, who was the only player in the top six to get past the third round following a series of upsets, beat the Australian eighth seed Samantha Stosur 6-3 6-3 and will now play Shahar Peer.
Israeli Peer beat 13th seed Li Na 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Regardless of what happens in her semi-final, Williams is projected to return to second place in the next world rankings for the first time since May 2003.
The other women's semi-final will be between unseeded duo Lucie Safarova and Aravane Rezai.
Czech Safarova, who dumped out Maria Sharapova in the first round, beat another Russian Nadia Petrova in a topsy-turvy match 6-1 1-6 6-4. Petrova, the 16th seed, had knocked out world number one Serena Williams in the previous round but could not follow that up with a win today.
Meanwhile, Rezai of France eliminated seventh seed Jelena Jankovic 7-5 6-4 in tonight's late game.

Friday, May 14, 2010

England Road to T-20 Finals

England - Road to the Final - ICC World Twenty20, 2010

Played: 6, Won: 4, Lost: 1 No Result: 1 Winning % 80.00

Date Venue Toss Teams & Scores Reuslt/MOM

May 3 Guyana WI Eng. 191-5 (20) W.Indies won by 8 wkts.
W.Ind. 60-2 (5.5) (D/L method)
Darren Sammy (WI) 2/22

May 4 Guyana Ire. Eng. 120-8 (20) No Result
Ire. 14-1 (3.3) Not announced

May 6 Bridgetown Eng. Pak. 147-9 (20) England won by 6 wkts.
Eng. 151-4 (19.3)Kevin Pietersen(E) 73*

May 8 Bridgetown Eng. Eng. 168-7 (20) England won by 39 runs
SA 129 (19) Kevin Pietersen(E) 53

May 10 Gros Islet NZ NZ 149-6 (20) England won by 3 wkts.
Eng. 153-6 (19.1)Tim Bresnan(E) 1/20,23*

May 13 Gros Islet SL SL 128-6 (20) England won by 7 wkts.
Eng. 132-3 (16) Stuart Broad (E) 2/21

England's performance so far:

Played Won Lost NR Winning %

Twenty20 Internationals 31 14 15 2 48.27
ICC World Twenty20 16 7 8 1 46.66

England vs. Australia - Head to Head

Played Won Won No Result
Eng. Aus.

Twenty20 Internationals 4 1 2 1

The two countries would be meeting each other for the second time in ICC World Twenty20. Australia had defeated England by 8 wickets in their only game in ICC World Twenty20 at Cape Town on September 14, 2007.

The top performers for England in ICC World Twenty20, 2010

Highest individual innings

73 not out vs Pakistan at Bridgetown Kevin Pietersen

Leading run-getter

201 (ave.67.00) in five games Kevin Pietersen

Highest average

67.00 Kevin Pietersen

Highest strike rate overall

145.16 - 135 off 93 balls Michael Lumb

Best Bowling in an innings

3-23 Ryan Sidebottom vs South Africa Bridgetown

Leading wicket-taker

9 (ave.14.11) in six matches Graeme Swann

Best strike rate

12.0 Graeme Swann

Best Partnership

95 (5th wkt.) Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright vs West Indies
at Providence on May 3.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Clijsters out of French Open

Belgium's Kim Clijsters has withdrawn from the French Open due to an ankle injury.
A CT scan today revealed the injury was healing, but fluid is still building up around her ankle and she has opted to miss the second grand slam of the year and end her clay court season.
Clijsters, who reached the French Open final in 2001 and 2003, said on her official website, "I will continue my recovery to be totally up for the season on grass.
"It's really a shame to give up on Roland Garros. Paris is so close I always feel a little at home. And that's where I played my first grand slam final.
"But the foot pain forces me to throw in the towel."
The French Open takes place at Roland Garros from May 23 to June 6.
Clijsters will play at Eastbourne, beginning on June 14, in preparation for Wimbledon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Murray's Warning

Andy Murray has warned David Ferrer he feels in much better shape heading into Friday night's Madrid Open quarter-final showdown.
The Spaniard ended Murray's tournament in Rome a fortnight ago with a 6-3 6-4 third-round victory before going on to reach the final, where he lost to compatriot Rafael Nadal.
That defeat left Murray with just one win in three tournaments heading into this week's Madrid Open, but the world number four has picked up back-to-back victories in the Spanish capital after defeating Juan Ignacio Chela and Victor Hanescu in his first two matches.
Thursday night's 6-2 6-1 drubbing of Romanian giant Hanescu earned Murray a return match with ninth-seed Ferrer and although the Scot feels he did not do too badly against the 28-year-old in Rome, he believes he will prove a much tougher opponent this evening.
"I've played three more matches than I had then and even though it sounded comfortable for him the other week, if you look at the chances I had there were so many 30-30 points, 0-30 games when I was up on his serve that I didn't win," said Murray.
"And the game where I was broken in the second set I was 40-15 up and had an easy smash on top of the net which I didn't put away and a lot of those things come from playing more matches, so I think I'm definitely in a better position now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Federer's revenge over Gulbis

Roger Federer had to dig deep before progressing through to the semi-final of the Madrid Open at the expense of Latvian Ernests Gulbis.
The 21-year-old had beaten world number one and reigning champion  Federer in the Rome Masters last month and he threatened to repeat the feat tonight after taking the first set and breaking the Swiss ace straight away in the second.
However, Federer battled back in style and, despite some gutsy tennis from world number 34 Gulbis, claimed the second set 6-1.
Gulbis refused to be bowed though, and he earned a break point on Federer's first service game for a chance to take a 2-0 lead in the decisive third set.
Federer wiped out that opportunity with an ace however, and after holding his serve the top seed would go onto break Gulbis in the very next game before taking the match 3-6 6-1 6-4 in just under two hours.
Federer was delighted with the win, especially having lost to the same opponent recently.
"In the end I thought it was a great performance," he said.
"I think that's one of the toughest things in tennis, when you lose to a player and then you have to play him again in the next couple of weeks. It's tough, so that's why I'm particularly happy to come up with a proper gameplan today.
"And even though I got off to a slow start, I managed to come through."
Federer's semi-final opponent is David Ferrer - one of three Spaniards in the last four - after the ninth seed defeated Andy Murray in a gruelling encounter.
Ferrer beat the world number four 7-5 6-3 in a late-finishing match that lasted two hours and 11 minutes.
Whereas Federer found himself in a real battle to see off his opponent, claycourt king Rafael Nadal swept aside Frenchman Gael Monfils with relative ease in his quarter-final.
Spaniard Nadal won 6-1 6-3 to improve an astonishing record which has now seen him claim 166 wins in 172 matches on clay since 2005.
Nadal said: "Yesterday I improved and today I improved even more. In the first set I played at a very high level, then in the second it was more difficult because Gael tried to play shorter points and it was a bit trickier.
"But the level was good and I'm happy about it."
Nadal will now meet countryman Nicolas Almagro for a place in the final.
The unseeded Almagro, who beat fourth seed Robin Soderling in the second round, has still to drop a set in the competition after defeating Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3 6-1.
This is the first semi-final appearance in 12 events this year for 24-year-old Almagro, the world number 35.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Venus to face Aravane Rezai

The WTA Madrid Open final will be contested between fourth seed Venus Williams and the unseeded Aravane Rezai.
Williams, who was the only member of the top six to get beyond the third round in what has been a bad week for the leading female players, defeated Israel's Shahar Peer 6-3 6-0 in just 66 minutes.
The American, who will return to second place in the world rankings for the first time in seven years following her run this week, said: "She (Peer) is a really tenacious player. She's talented, with a never-say-die attitude. So I can't complain about being able to play that well against a player like her.
"I've been happy with my form and I'm going to try to keep it going tomorrow, and tonight," added Williams, referring to her doubles final when she and her sister Serena face Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta.
Frenchwoman Rezai secured her spot in Sunday's final when her Czech opponent Lucie Safarova retired after losing the first set 6-1.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Murray got back his Intensity

Andy Murray is looking towards the upcoming French Open with optimism after producing three increasingly encouraging performances at the Madrid Open this week.
Murray came to Spain in disappointing form having won just five of 10 matches since reaching the Australian Open final at the start of the year.
However, he started to show signs of improvement at the Rome Masters, where he picked up his first victory in three tournaments against Andreas Seppi before losing to David Ferrer in his next match.
And the Scot built on that at the Madrid Open, where he took some significant strides towards a return to his best.
His opening two matches in the Spanish capital resulted in straight-sets victories over Juan Ignacio Chela and Victor Hanescu and, although he could not gain revenge for his defeat in Italy against Ferrer in Friday night's quarter-final, Murray was far from outclassed against the in-form Spaniard.
Speaking after his 7-5 6-3 defeat to the claycourt specialist, Murray said he believes he can do well at the French Open if he continues to play at that level.
The world number four also feels things are starting to click into place mentally.
"If I hit the ball like that I will beat a lot of guys. I think I could've won the match so going into the French I'll definitely feel way, way better than I did a few weeks ago," said Murray.
"It's been a positive week.
"I've got my intensity back. My mind's where it needs to be on the court.
"Hopefully going into the French I'll be a little calmer. I think it's normal to get a little bit frustrated when you haven't won that many matches but I think I'm moving good, hitting the ball well and the intensity is right, and there's no reason why I can't play well at the French."
He added: "I just feel like I'm in the right frame of mind on the court, and if I'm like that, even if I don't play well, then I'll still fight very hard and I'll give myself chances to win matches.
"I'm just happy with the mindset that I'm in just now. I'm very disappointed to have lost (to Ferrer) - not because I didn't give everything out there on the court, but simply because I lost.
"If you give everything and lose, it's tough, but I lost to a better player tonight and that's nothing to be ashamed of."
Of Murray's 14 titles to date, none have come on clay and his best performance at Roland Garros was the quarter-final berth last season.
The British number one, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on Saturday, felt his showing against Ferrer exceeded anything he has produced on clay so far this year, but he admits there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"In terms of playing the right way and the way I need to play on clay, I had some good wins on clay last year, but I felt tonight (against Ferrer) was how I need to play on the clay," he said.
"There are a few things like ghosting into the net that I could have done a bit better, a few volleys, but tonight was very good.
"I can't think off the top of my head what the best ever claycourt match I've played is but so far this year that was the best one, but I still feel I can play 20-30 per cent better."
Murray also believes there were some lessons he can take on board from his defeat to Ferrer about staying cool under pressure.
"In Australia for me I was in the right frame of mind. It's maintaining a sort of calm in your game when you're in the big stage of the match and that's something that over the last couple of years I've done very, very well," he said.
"Maybe it's because I haven't played that many matches over the last few months. It's not like I didn't play well tonight, I was very close to winning, but that's something I can improve - just maintaining a little bit more calm in my game at the important moments and I'm sure after playing in a match like that it's something I'll learn from.
"I'll learn from the little mistakes that I made and I'll play well at the French Open, I'm sure."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fedrer and Nadal to meet in Madrid Open

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet in the final of the Madrid Open for the second successive year.
Both matches lasted more then two hours, with world number one Federer beating the in-form David Ferrer 7-5 3-6 6-3 to set up the re-match with Nadal, who defeated fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 4-6 6-2 6-2.
In last year's final, Federer won his second Madrid crown with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Nadal and he will be looking to claim his second title of 2010 at La Caja Magica having won the Australian Open in January.
Federer was pushed all the way by Spaniard Ferrer, though.
Ninth seed Ferrer had lost all nine of his previous meetings with Federer but came into the match in confident mood having recorded the most wins on the ATP tour this year with 33.
The clay-court specialist failed to make a significant impression as he lost the first set, but he hit back in the second set to level up the match at 1-1.
It would be Federer who would end up victorious though as he made the crucial break in the eighth game of the third set before serving out for the match.
Federer said after his victory: "I think I served really well. In the first set there was some of my best serving in a long time.
"I knew on clay I was always going to go through a tougher period as well. That´s what happened in the second set. I was serving with the old balls, the next change was coming and then one game after, I missed the two first serves, double faulted on the third and I was down 0-40 and he took advantage of that and it just shows what a tough competitor he is.
"He's one of the great return players in the game on the second serve. He makes you work extremely hard and that´s why he´s been so successful on clay.
"He doesn´t miss much and he fights like crazy and it works well. He´s really improved a lot of the last couple of years. So I knew the danger and I´m extremely happy that I prevailed."
Looking ahead to tomorrow's final, the Swiss superstar admits he is relishing the chance to lock horns with Nadal again having surprisingly not faced the Spaniard since meeting in the final here in Madrid last year.
"After playing him last year, you figure maybe the French, Wimbledon or down the stretch in America we would face off again but it just never ended up happening, even though his rankings briefly slipped and we could have been in the semis section," added Federer.
"It´s not always easy, it shows how incredible the last few years have been. I think it´s exciting for tennis and for us obviously."
Earlier, Nadal secured his place in the final and with it a return to second place in the world rankings with a similarly tough encounter against Almagro.
Heading into the semi-final, Nadal boasted an incredible record of 166 wins on clay in 172 matches since 2005 and a perfect 13 out of 13 this year, but the second seed looked in serious trouble after losing the first set against a pumped-up Almagro.
Incredibly, there were five breaks of serve in the opening six games of the match, three of which were won by the unseeded Almagro who would go on to take the set 6-4.
Almagro, who had lost each of his previous five meetings against his countryman, then earned a double break point in Nadal's second service game in the second set for a chance to 2-1 ahead.
However, Almagro could not take advantage of that golden opportunity, and it proved to be the turning point of the match as Nadal hit back in style.
The 23-year-old held his serve in that game and then broke Almagro immediately in the next to take a 3-1 lead before finishing the set with another break in the eighth game.
The deciding set was virtually all Nadal, who broke in the second and eighth games to clinch the match.
Speaking about the prospect of facing Federer again, Nadal said: "Playing a final against Federer, against one of the best in the history of the game, is always great; it always has an extra motivation.
"Matches against him are always very very difficult, they are always a challenge. My job is done reaching the final; it was a dream come true being able to play well and win."
The women's final will be contested between fourth seed Venus Williams and the unseeded Aravane Rezai after both players - unlike their male counterparts - enjoyed comfortable semi-final successes today.
Williams, who was the only member of the top six to get beyond the third round in what has been a bad week for the leading female players, defeated Israel's Shahar Peer 6-3 6-0 in just 66 minutes.
The American, who will return to second place in the world rankings for the first time in seven years following her run this week, said: "She (Peer) is a really tenacious player. She's talented, with a never-say-die attitude. So I can't complain about being able to play that well against a player like her.
"I've been happy with my form and I'm going to try to keep it going," added Williams.
Frenchwoman Rezai, 23, secured her spot in tomorrow's final when her opponent Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic retired after losing the first set 6-1.

Friday, May 7, 2010

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Kirilenko to test sore calf

Andrei Kirilenko is running out of patience and time to rehabilitate his left calf.
After more than a month of waiting for his strained calf to heal, Kirilenko expects to be playing for the Utah Jazz when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday in the Western Conference playoffs.

Already down 2-0 to the defending NBA champions, the short-handed Jazz can use even a limited version of Kirilenko.

"We don't have that kind of luxury to wait, especially right now," Kirilenko said before the Jazz practiced Thursday. "I feel way better than I was like a week ago so I have to get back and start playing the game."
The undersized Jazz will welcome back the lanky, 6-foot-9 Russian, even if his calf is still a little gimpy and he's out of condition after the long layoff. Kirilenko still has those long arms, which have blocked 1,306 shots in nine seasons and can pluck the ball out of a crowd of bulkier players vying for a rebound.

"AK brings a lot to the table. If he can get a blocked shot, get a couple of rebounds let his presence be known, it'll help us," forward Carlos Boozer said. "I know he's been out for a while so everybody's going to be interested to see how he does, but he's up for that challenge. His length will help us against their length."
The Lakers dominated inside in the first two games, using 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and bringing 6-10 Lamar Odom off the bench. The Lakers averaged 50.5 rebounds and 10 blocks while winning both games in Los Angeles.

How much Kirilenko can really help won't be apparent until Saturday, but even if he can only disrupt the Lakers a little bit inside, that's more than the Jazz have been able to do so far in the series.
Utah has used only nine players and young centers Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos have a total of six points and eight rebounds combined in the first two games. Adding Kirilenko to the rotation will allow coach Jerry Sloan to go with three forwards and spell Boozer and Paul Millsap more than he's been able to in eight playoff games.

Kirilenko missed 15 of the last 17 games of the regular season and hasn't played at all since March 26.
The Jazz survived the first round without Kirilenko and center Mehmet Okur, who ruptured his left Achilles' tendon in the playoff opener at Denver, but the lack of depth, experience and size have been the Lakers' most obvious edge in the series.

The Lakers returned to practice Thursday after a day off, knowing of Kirilenko's plans and the difference he can make for the Jazz.

"It gives you another player you have to concern yourself with," Lakers star Kobe Bryant said after Thursday's practice. "He's great around the ball. You have to watch him coming from the weak side to block shots. He gives them a great effort."

Sloan said he will probably keep Kirilenko inside rather than add stress to Kirilenko's calf by having him guard Bryant, who is averaging 30.5 points in the series.

None of the options Sloan was mulling Thursday sounded particularly appealing.

"We've still got to do a better job of trying to help each other. Obviously they've hurt us a great deal on the boards with their length," Sloan said. "We've got to do a better job of going back to the fundamentals and blocking guys off a little better and helping guys defensively. That all sounds so simple and easy but this is a great team we're playing against."

Kirilenko spent much of the last few seasons coming off the bench, but returned as a regular starter in January and the Jazz went on a 16-2 run before back spasms kept him out of two games in late February.
He averaged almost 12 points this season and any offense he could provide Saturday and Monday in Game 4 would be a bonus for the Jazz, who were able to hang with the Lakers in the first two games before losing 104-99 and 111-103.

"We just hope we can get some minutes somewhere along the line and give us some help," Sloan said. "We'll take anything we can get. We'll just have to wait and see."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

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Jackson for coaching job

The New Orleans Hornets have met with Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau and former NBA player Mark Jackson about the club's head coaching vacancy.

Team spokesman Harold Kaufman says general manager Jeff Bower and team president Hugh Weber met with the two candidates in Boston on Thursday. Jackson is currently a national NBA television analyst.
Gary Chouest, who has agreed to a deal with George Shin to become the majority owner of the Hornets, also attended the Boston meetings.

The Hornets have now interviewed five candidates for the job. The club also met with former Dallas coach Avery Johnson and current Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey on Tuesday, and with former NBA coach Mike Fratello on Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LeBron's elbow passes test during practice

LeBron James knows he's in for a painful playoff run.
Chasing an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers at less than 100 percent, the two-time league MVP said Thursday that his injured right elbow -- now with its own Twitter page -- feels better but it won't be completely healed until he rests it after the season.
James has accepted his fate.

"I've got to play with it," he said.

James made it through a complete practice Thursday without his elbow "flaring up" as the Cavaliers got in a final workout before heading to Boston for Game 3 on Friday night. After the Celtics' win in Game 2 on Monday evened the series, James spent the past few days icing his elbow and undergoing electrical stimulus treatments.

However, James knows he has to be more assertive. The Cavs can't wait for him to take over a game, and he can't wait for help.

"We all need to come out more aggressive, not only myself," he said. "I can't go a whole first half and take only five shot attempts. I definitely have to be more aggressive in trying to get more shot attempts up. As a team we have to do the same thing, when we get good looks, we have to take them and knock them down."
Center Shaquille O'Neal needs to get going.

He has struggled so far in the series, shooting just 36 percent (8 of 22). The Cavs were counting on Shaq to draw attention down low, bringing in double- and triple-teams and opening up Cleveland's outside game. That hasn't happened, and until the Big Diesel shows up, the Celtics can gear their defense around stopping James.
O'Neal understands what James is going through. The 15-time All-Star has played with his share of injuries through the years and knows how tough it can be to block one out.

"It's very difficult. But he's a warrior," O'Neal said. "He hasn't really mentioned much about it. He hasn't really talked about it. He's going to play through it and he's not going to make any excuses. His elbow has nothing to do with our team defense. Everyone has to do their part.

"I still see the greatest player in the game but we, as the others, have to help him out."
James is amused by all the interest in his elbow.

There have been conflicting reports about his injury as well as the number of tests he has undergone. A satirical Twitter page has popped up, written from the perspective of his elbow.

James, who said he isn't following his elbow on Twitter, confirmed he has had only one MRI.

"According to the TV I've had about 50. 'LeBron has another MRI today scheduled, he has another one when he gets to Boston,"' he said, playfully mocking the reports. "I've only had one, and I've only needed one."

The Cavaliers hope it stays just one.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ainge fined $25K for towel-tossing incident in Game 2

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for tossing a towel to try and distract Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson as he shot a free throw.

Ainge, who was sitting courtside under the Cavs' basket, flipped a white towel over his head during the third quarter of Monday night's playoff game between Boston and Cleveland. The Celtics led by 23 points at the time, and Hickson made the free throw anyway.

Stu Jackson, the league's executive vice president of basketball operations, fined Ainge for "an unauthorized distraction and for conduct detrimental to the game."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after the team's practice in Waltham, Mass., on Thursday that he was surprised Ainge was fined.

"That's a lot of towels. Those are some Grade A towels that Danny bought, for sure," he said with a laugh.
 "What's the difference between that and mascots, [who] do it all the time. I was wondering if Danny had borrowed [Celtics mascot] Lucky's outfit. He could try that."

Boston went on to win 104-86 to even the Eastern Conference semifinal at 1-1.

On Wednesday, Ainge said he regretted his behavior, calling it "unprofessional."

While the NBA found Ainge's actions inappropriate, LeBron James didn't think he did anything wrong.
"I think it's cool," the league's two-time MVP said after practice. "A GM or an owner like Mark Cuban and you see M.J. [Michael Jordan], those guys it's their team, they put the team together and they can have as much fun as they want to. I think it's cool. I mean, why not? I'm not opposed to it."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Football Tickets and Scores

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Custom Tail Lights

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Referee leaves after third quarters with leg injury

Referee Ron Garretson has left the Phoenix-San Antonio game with a leg injury.

Fellow referee Joey Crawford said Garretson injured his Achilles tendon Wednesday night. Substitute referee David Jones replaced Garretson for the final quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

David Wilkerson Website Review

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Garnett, Perkins feeling better, return to practice

Boston Celtics big men Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins were back at practice preparing for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Garnett says there's nothing his mid-foot strain prohibited him from doing in Thursday's workout.
Perkins said he feels a little pain, but his right knee didn't limit him, either.

The Celtics and Cavs are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series. Boston could take a big lead with victories at home on Friday and Sunday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mobile sports betting

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Sports Betting Review

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Reaction low key to 'Los Suns'

Suns fans wore "Los Suns" jerseys and T-shirts and a group of four even entered the arena with sombreros for their team's playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs.

There was a lone protester holding up a homemade sign outside the arena who was against the idea of the "Los Suns" jerseys Phoenix wore Wednesday night for Game 2 of its second-round series.

Otherwise, it was a typical game night around US Airways Center.

The Suns made headlines the day before with their decision to wear "Los Suns" jerseys on the Cinco de Mayo holiday. A new Arizona immigration law has drawn widespread criticism from Latino organizations and civil rights groups that say it could lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. President Barack Obama has called the law "misguided."

The protester, who identified herself only as Karen from Glendale, held a sign which read The Phoenix Suns support drug runners; armed coyotes; drop houses; extradition; forced labor; forced prostitution of illegals; murder of Arizona citizens on their own property; assault on law enforcement officers.
"I was disappointed that the ownership for the Suns organization decided to not support our state's efforts to do something about the problem we have on our borders," said the woman, who added she came to the arena only to protest.

"How they feel personally on their own time is one thing, but as an organization that has so much influence over public opinion -- it's like the outsiders that come in. Their views on the bill are distorted, too."
Pedro Flores of Phoenix came to the game wearing an Amare Stoudemire "Los Suns" jersey and said he's proud his team is taking a stand on the controversy.

"It's good and on Cinco de Mayo day," he said. "I think it's great."

Prime Time Sneakers

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