Saturday, July 31, 2010


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Thursday, July 29, 2010

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Thursday, July 22, 2010


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Muralidharan gets his 800 Wicket Mark in Test

Spin genius Muttiah Muralitharan brought down the curtains on his Test career in a blaze of glory by becoming the first cricketer to scalp 800 wickets as Sri Lanka spanked India by ten wickets in the first Test on Thursday.

The hosts had to sweat a bit to wrap up the remaining five wickets and dismiss the world's number one team for 338 in their second innings, a total largely built around gritty contributions from tailenders.

With rain clouds hovering over the stadium, the Sri Lankan openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (68 not out) and Tharanga Paranavitana (23 not out) showed great urgency to rattle up the required runs on the final day to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Dilshan brought about the victory in style by clobbering Harbhajan Singh for a mighty six as the Lankans raced to 96 no loss in just 14.1 overs to record their seventh 10-wicket win overall and the second against India.

Resuming at a precarious 181 for five, India lost captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (4) and Harbhajan Singh (8) in quick succesion but VVS Laxman (69) and a dogged resistance by tailenders Ahimanyu Mithun (25), Ishant Sharma (31 not out) and Pragyan Ojha (13) delayed the inevitable.

The late order fightback not only frustrated the hosts but helped India to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat and take a slender lead to stretch the game beyond the tea break at the Galle International stadium.

Muralitharan hiumself played a key role in his swansong Test by scalping five wickets in the first innings and three in the second to take his overall tally to 800, thus becoming the first cricketer to achieve the remarkable feat.

India's capitulation was all the more shocking considering an entire day's play was washed out because of rain. While nothing great was expected from the depleted bowling attack, the failure of the star-studded batting line up hurt the team badly.

The two teams will now travel to Colombo for the second Test starting July 26 and another defeat could dislodge India from the number one position.

If Sri Lanka win the series 2-0, India would lose four rating points and come down to the third position behind South Africa. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will gain six points and become the number one team.

All eyes were on Muralitharan as the crowd and his teammates expected him to reach the 800-wicket mark quickly but the off-spinner could add just one more scalp to take his tally to 799 till the lunch break.

It was paceman Lasith Malinga who took two of the three wickets that fell in the opening session by removing India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mithun.

Dhoni and Laxman resumed at overnight score of 181 for five and India's fate hinged much on their efforts with the bat. Malinga though shattered India's hopes by bowling out Dhoni with a beautiful yorker.

Muralitharan then trapped Harbhajan Singh (8) to trigger celebrations but the spirited resistance by the tailenders from then on raised hopes of an Indian escape.

Laxman, who was on nine overnight, on the other end was unruffled and frustrated the hosts with his fighting half-century.

His 49-run partnership with Mithun (25) for the eighth wicket and unfinished 68-run stand for the ninth wicket was crucial in saving India from the innings defeat.

After supporting Laxman for an hour, Mithun became the fifth victim of Malinga. Confronted with a screamer of a delivery, Mithun was no where in line and was adjudged plumb leg before.

After Mithun, Ishant showed the stomach for a fight and battled hard for India's cause.

Ishant (31 not out) became only the fourth batsman to face 100 or more balls in a Test innings while batting at number 10 position.

VVS Laxman (69) and Ishant resumed the post lunch session and raised a 68 run stand for the ninth wicket, the best at Galle International stadium. It bettered the previous 60-run stand between Rahul Dravid and Venkatesh Prasad.

Laxman's run out brought relief for the hosts but it left Muralitharan in a situation where only one wicket was on offer and he had to get that to complete his 800-wicket tally.

Laxman's fighting fifty had five fours and and ended in an unfortunate manner as he and Ishant went for a risky run.

Ojha joined the action after Laxman's dismissal and with Ishant he frustrated the hosts for another 15 overs.

Ishant survived two furious appeals off Muralitharan and a stump chance off Dilshan in his brave unbeaten innings.

The not out decision by third umpire on that stump chance was cheered by the crowd as it could have left Muralitharan stranded on 799 in his farewell Test.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sehwag Fires still Indians on lower hand

Virender Sehwag (85), who payed with his usual flamboyance, and VVS Laxman (18) ensured that there were no more setbacks as they took the score to 140 for three at close on the third day with the hosts still trailing by 380 runs.

With two days left in the match and the pitch at the Galle International stadium expected to deteriorate, the Indians need to bat out of their skin to ensure that Muttiah Muralitharan's swansong Test ends in a draw.

The day clearly belonged to the hosts as they not only consolidated their position by amassing a huge score but also scalped three prized wickets.

While Gambhir perished in Malinga's first over, Dravid was run out trying to go for a cheeky single. But the biggest blow for the visitors came when Tendulkar was trapped leg before by Muralitharan.

Earlier, the Indians managed to claw back into the game to some extent in the pre-lunch session as they evicted Tharanga Paranavitana (111), Thilan Samaraweera (0), Mahela Jayawardene (48) and Angelo Mathews (41).

But the late order belligerence of Herath and Malinga took the game completely away from the Indians.

After the second day was completely washed out, play resumed on Tuesday after an hour's delay with Sri Lanka at 256 for two and the Indians managed to get a few quick wickets in the opening session.

Ishant, who has been struggling for quite some time, tasted his first success when he induced a nick from centurion Paranavitana which went straight to wicketkeeper Dhoni.

Paranavitana (111) poked at the moving delivery off the backfoot and the diving Indian skipper made no mistake. Debutant Abhimanyu Mithun then struck another blow to the Lankan line-up when he had new batsman Thilan Samaraweera (0) trapped leg before.

The ball that slanted in late caught Samaraweera unawares and the Hawkeye showed the it may have just kissed the top of the middle stump.

Samaraweera had earlier got a reprieve when Rahul Dravid dropped a sitter off the bowling of Mithun at first slip. The outside edge looped up and carried straight into Dravid's lap but failed to stick.

However, former Lankan skipper Jayawardene took a measure of the Indian fast bowlers as he cut a Mithun bouncer over the slip cordon for a boundary.

Jayawardene later got the benefit of the doubt when his attempted sweep popped into Gautam Gambhir's hand at short leg. The third umpire ruled that the ball had bounced before carrying to Gambhir.

Dhoni decided to bring back the fast bowlers in pursuit of further wickets as both Mathews and Jayawardene showed little difficulty in playing the spinners.

Ishant was unlucky not to get early breakthroughs as he troubled the batsmen but finally got Jayawardene (48) who missed an attempted flick and was trapped leg before wicket.

Ishant then got Mathews as he nipped an away going delivery to be neatly taken by Laxman at second slip.

The hosts tightened their grip on the match in the post lunch session with Herath and Malinga proving quite a handful for the tired Indian bowlers.

Malinga, who hit Pragyan Ojha for two sixes, celebrated his maiden half century in Test cricket.

The gritty batsman finally fell when he scooped an Abhimanyu Mithun delivery into the waiting hands of Harbhajan at fine leg.

Earlier, in an apparent attempt to accelerate, newcomer Prasanna Jayawardene hammered Harbajan Singh to the midwicket for the first six of the match.

Making it an expensive over for Harbhajan, Prasanna swept a flighted delivery on middle stump to the midwicket boundary. It was left to Mithun to bring to an end the dangerous looking batsman's innings.

Prasanna, who was looking to play it to the leg side after moving across the stump, missed the ball and got hit on his pads in the middle stump and the umpire had no hesitation in declaring him LBW.

It was then Herath and Malinga who took centre stage with a some blistering shots which entertained the sparse crowd at the Galle International stadium.

After Malinga's dismissal, Muttiah Muralitharan walked in for his last Test appearance and was accorded a grand welcome with fireworks bursting all around.

In a touching gesture, the Indian players also greeted Muralitharan with a guard of honour as he stepped out to bat.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tendulkar does it for charity

It seemed bizzare at first but former players are now lauding Sachin Tendulkar for allowing his blood to be used on the signature page of an autobiography since it's all for charity.

The London-based publishers of the autobiography 'Tendulkar Opus' will come out with a "blood edition" of the book, which will have never-seen-before pictures of the iconic batsman's family, in February next year to coincide with the World Cup in the sub-continent.

The 852-page book edged in gold leaf, will be sold at a whopping USD 75,000. Only 10 copies of the book, which will weigh 37kg and measure half a metre square, will come out.

The thought of Tendulkar's blood on a book's page was wierd to start with but as it trickled out that the proceeds will go to a charity, there was only praise for the batsman.

"There is a good cause behind it. The money earned through it will be used for charity. Sachin wants to build a school for the children from his charitable organisation. It's a good cause. I don't think it's being done for commercial reasons or for publicity," former batsman and Tendulkar's close pal Vinod Kambli said.

"I was shocked initially (after hearing that Sachin's blood and DNA would be used in the book). An autobiography is generally about yourself. It must be a family decision. Hats off to Sachin for taking this decision," he said.

Kambli said he is curious about what the book has to offer in terms of insight into Tendulkar's life.

"Sachin is a very private person (to do this sort of a thing). This will be a rare opportunity for his fans to know more about him. The book will be priceless for them.

"The fans will be very curious to know what the book has to offer. I'm myself curious to know about the book. I would like to ask Sachin about it when he returns from Sri Lanka. The book is likely to contain mention of many incidents about Sachin's life which are unknown to me," he said.

Former captain Ajit Wadekar said Tendulkar has set an example for others by giving his blood for a good cause.

"(It was for charity) otherwise Sachin wouldn't have agreed to it. He has been helping people otherwise too without letting others know. He is giving his blood for a good cause, others should emulate him," he said.

"Generally, we hear about paintings fetching Rs two crore. This book will fetch more and more money as it will become antique. The book will be something very rare (because of the use of Sachin's blood)," he added.

Former Team India manager Lalchand Rajput refused to react on the use of blood but said the book would be a rare piece of work.

"Sachin's autobiography will be like an encyclopedia to read. Whatever Tendulkar writes will be a treat to read. Such rare books should be kept in public libraries for public viewing," he said.

Forner wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani said he would react only if Tendulkar himself confirms that his blood has been used in the book.

"If Sachin's blood is used, he should come out and say it in open to prove it is genuine. Only then I will comment," he said.

The publishers, Kraken Media, are themseleves tightlipped on the matter.

"We don't want to say anything at the moment. Please be in touch with us, we will come out with a statement in February," a spokesman from Kraken Media told PTI from London.

Apart from his blood, Tendulkar has also given a sample of his saliva which would be used to create his DNA profile and would be printed on a two-metre gatefold in the book.

All proceeds from the sale of the 10 copies will go to Tendulkar's charitable foundation to help build a school in Mumbai.

Kraken will also publish around 1,000 copies of a cheaper edition of the autobiography at USD 2,000-3,000.

Signed by Tendulkar, this edition will also be half-metre square in size and will contain around 75 per cent previously unpublished material about the cricketing star, as well as his DNA profile - but not his blood.

Kraken Media will also release a USD 200-300 smaller edition of the book

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kambli Amazed By Sachin's act

Vinod Kambli is surprised by childhood pal and batting star Sachin Tendulkar's decision to have his blood used on a page of his autobiography to be released in February next year.

Sachin Tendulkar's childhood friend Vinod Kambli was surprised that the batting maestro agreed to have his blood used on a page of a special, limited edition of his biography to be released in February, 2011.

"I am taken aback," said Kambli, after he was informed about Tendulkar's blood being used in the book.

"This is something you could have expected from a Vinod Kambli and not Sachin Tendulkar," he said.

The Guardian newspaper quoted publisher Kraken Media's chief executive Karl Fowler as saying, "The signature page will be mixed with Sachin's blood - mixed into the paper pulp so it's a red resin. It is what it is - you will have Sachin's blood on the page."

However, the London-based publishers did not elaborate on the blood aspect when contacted.

According to a report, only 10 copies of the Blood Edition will be printed and they are already sold. The proceeds will go to Tendulkar's charity foundation for a school to be built. "I am touched by Sachin's gesture. It is a very noble one for a great cause and I would like to help in any way possible," said Kambli.

"Talking about blood, you know, I have never seen Sachin shed blood," said Kambli, who was known to be one part of a mischievous pair. "I only watched on television how he got injured on his debut tour of Pakistan in 1989-90."

The 852-page special book reportedly weighs 37 kilos and measures half a metre square. It costs 49,000.

The publishers will print around 1,000 copies of another edition priced between 1,300 and 1,900. The height will be the same as the Blood Edition but will have 75% of previously unpublished material as well as his DNA profile. A smaller edition is being planned too and will cost between 130 and 190.

"From speeding balls to incessant travel, movement has been the only constant in my professional life," Tendulkar says in a press release.

"Seeing that captured in static images at such large scale and high quality is a real treat and makes this unique project all the more special. I can't think of a better way of displaying my life and career than in an Opus."

Tendulkar, who is Galle for the opening Test against Sri Lanka, was unavailable for comment.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CL T-20 squad announced

Indian Premier League's costliest buy Kieron Pollard is among the six players who will have two or more teams jostling to have them on board for the Champions League Twenty20, the preliminary squads for which were announced here on Wednesday .

Bought for USD 2.2 million by Mumbai Indians, Pollard is also eligible to play for South Australian Redbacks.

Others who have qualified for more than one team are Jacques Kallis (home team Warriors and Royal Challengers Bangalore), Mark Boucher (Warriors and Royal Challengers Bangalore), Ross Taylor (home team Central Stags, Victorian Bushrangers and Royal Challengers Bangalore), Dwayne Bravo (Victorian Bushrangers and Mumbai Indians) and Cameron White (home team Victorian Bushrangers, Royal Challengers Bangalore).

Meanwhile, England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is one step closer to a return to top-flight cricket after being named in the Chennai Super Kings' preliminary squad.

The 32-year-old, who has not played first-class cricket since the Ashes series in England last year, has been named in a 20-player CSK squad for the second edition of the 10-team tournament which will be played in South Africa from September 10 to 26.

With eight of the nine confirmed teams for the tournament having named their preliminary squads with the exception of Wayamba just three weeks remain before the final squads of 15 are selected on August 9.

"As was the case last year, if a player is selected to play for an 'away' team rather than his 'home' team, the 'away' team must pay USD 200,000 compensation to the 'home' team," CLT20 said in a statement.

Other international stars to be named in the preliminary squads, include Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings), Mahela Jayawardene (Wayamba Elevens), Dale Steyn (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Rahul Dravid (RCB), JP Duminy (MI), Matthew Hayden (CSK), Muttiah Muralidaran (CSK), Harbhajan Singh (MI) and Mike Hussey (CSK).

The 10th and final team to compete at this year's Champions League will be decided when the West Indies' domestic Twenty20 tournament finishes on July 31

Friday, July 16, 2010

Afridi to Quit Playing Test Matches

Surprised with Shahid Afridi's decision to quit Test cricket after the second match against Australia, former Pakistan captains questioned the move saying it has come at a "wrong time".
Former captain Moin Khan said Afridi should have decided before going on the tour whether Test cricket was suited to his temperament.

"I don't understand what he has done. If he was not prepared for Test cricket then he should have thought about this before accepting the captaincy," Moin told PTI.

"His decision has come at a wrong time for Pakistan cricket and will complicate issues in the team," Moin added.

Another former captain Zaheer Abbas, however, didn't rule out the possibility of politics or team issues.

"I don't know what is going on behind the doors but you get a definite feeling that they are still problems within the team in England this led to this sudden decision by Afridi to announce his retirement," Zaheer said.

"It makes no sense that Afridi should decide now he is not ready to play Test matches. He is himself totally confused as to what he wants do. To make him the Test captain was a wrong decision," he added.

The crisis developed after Afridi decided to retire from Test cricket immediately after his team suffered a humiliating 150-run defeat at the hand of Australia in the first Test at Lord's.

Reports from England have indicated that the PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt and his close friend and the team manager Yawar Saeed have been calling the shots which left the senior players unhappy.

Zaheer said if the Board didn't start taking good decisions the team would continue to struggle badly in international cricket.

Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said that it was the PCB's fault that it appointed Afridi as Test captain in the first place.

"How could they appoint someone who himself had avoided playing Test matches and not played a Test since 2006. It was a wrong decision and it has backfired badly now," he said.

Inzamam, who is Pakistan's most capped player, said that he didn't support the way Afridi decided to retire.

"Playing two leg spinners in the first Test on a seaming track at Lord's was one of the issues that came out of appointing Afridi as captain," he said.

Inzamam, however, felt that all was not lost and the Board should discuss the situation with senior players and in the first move call back Younis Khan and Muhammad Yousuf to the team in England.

"The team needs these two players and the decision to drop them in the first place was not correct. They must be brought back, I don't know how much practice Yousuf has been doing but he is an experienced and proven performer and he can deliver in difficult conditions," he said.

Former captain Rashid Latif didn't agree with Afridi's assumption that he was not cut out for Test matches.

"I think, he has taken a hasty decision. He can play Test cricket because he is a far improved and mature player now."

Latif said that PCB would take another wrong decision if it decides to appoint Salman Butt as captain.

"I say this because right now he is your inform player and making him captain would put added pressure on him that could affect his batting. I don't think he is ready for the captaincy as yet," Latif said.

The former wicketkeeper-batsman also suggested that the Board should recall Muhammad Yousuf out of retirement as he was the best choice to captain the Test side in England.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Australia Tour Starts from October

The Indian Cricket Board has revised the schedule of the upcoming home tour of Australia but the re-jigged dates continue to clash with October's Commonwealth Games.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had sought Sports Ministry's intervention in pursuing the BCCI to change the dates of the tour to avoid a clash with the Games.

However, the Board had said that they have not been approached by anyone for any change.

According to the revised itinerary, the two Test matches against Australia have been advanced by one day each.

The first Test will now be held from October 1 in Mohali and second from October 9 in Bangalore.

The dates of the One-day series have also been changed.

The first ODI will be played on October 17 in Kochi and second on October 20 in Vizag.

The third ODI will be played on October 24 in Goa.

The BCCI also released the schedule of the New Zealand home tour, which will begin with the first Test from November 4 in Ahmedabad.

The second Test will be played from November 12-16 in Kanpur while the third and final Test is scheduled for Nagpur from November 20-24.

A five-match ODI series will be played after the three-match Test series.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Modi Raises Certain Issues Again

A day after his petition to reconstitute the Cricket Board's Disciplinary Committee set up to hear charges against him was rejected by the Bombay High Court, suspended Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi raised the issue with the panel members here on Friday.

Modi, represented at the first meeting of the BCCI's three-member committee by his legal counsel Mehmood Abdi as he is abroad, raised the issue of recusal with the committee members.

"We had a cordial meeting and the issue of recusal was put forth. The members said it would be considered," Abdi told reporters after the meeting.

Abdi also said that the next hearing by the committee would be held on July 27 at Delhi but refused to divulge any more details of what transpired on Friday.

"We have come to a mutual understanding not to divulge details of the disciplinary commitee meetings with the media. The BCCI would put up the minutes of the meeting on their website," he said.

BCCI has agreed to Modi's request that his lawyers be allowed to represent him at Disciplinary Committee hearings. This is an exception as according to the Board's rules the person facing an enquiry must be present at hearing.

It has been further known that the BCCI will also have it's lawyers involved in the hearing against Modi.

BCCI will also consider Modi's request on the recusal of memebers of the Disciplinary Committee.

Modi has demanded removal of two members of the committee - IPL's interim chairman Chirayu Amin and Arun Jaitley - as he fears they would be biased against him during the disciplinary proceedings. The third member is Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Abdi, accompanied by three other lawyers, said before going into the meeting that his camp would raise the issue of recusal of Amin and Jaitley from the Committee.

"We are here to discuss the recusal issue as per the Bombay High Court order yesterday. We have not received a copy of the order yet. After receiving the copy we will take a decision about asking for a new date of hearing from the BCCI," Abdi told reporters prior to the meeting.

On Friday, the Bombay High Court refused to grant any relief to Modi and left the issue of reconstituting the disciplinary panel.

The division bench of Justices B H Marlapalle and Roshan Dalvi dismissed Modi's plea seeking reconstitution of the panel and cleared the deck for the disciplinary proceedings against him to commence.

However, the court also indicated that the final finding can be challenged by Modi and he can even raise the issue of constitution of the committee at that point.

Modi's objection to the committee was that it would be biased against him and he had sought that the panel be made up of independent persons, preferably retired supreme court judges.

But the division bench said that as per the BCCI rules, "Disciplinary committee has limited is only required to enquire into charges and submit the final report to the board. The board is the final decision-making body." Modi's lawyer Virag Tulzhapurkar said during the hearing of the petition that Amin had a "personal bias" against the suspended IPL chairman, whereas Jaitley was on the IPL governing council which "ratified" formation of committee.

"So the decision of the committee is a foregone conclusion," he had argued.

But the court said that it was leaving the decision to these two persons whether they should withdraw from the panel on "moral grounds" and "it would not be proper for the court to interfere" now.

In his petition, Modi had sought suspension of the whole disciplinary proceedings.

But in view of his July 6 letter to the BCCI seeking reformation of the panel, court said that it would not consider other issues raised by him.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pointing Gone and the day comes to an end

At the end of the day Aussies were at 161 for 2 . Bad light had stopped play after lunch between Pakistan and Australia in the first Test at Lord's after damp conditions delayed the toss.
Pakistan capitalised on the overcast conditions to make an early breakthrough with the wicket of Australian opener Shane Watson in the first Test at Lord's.
Watson was bowled off his pads when playing no shot to Mohammad Aamer, the 18-year-old Pakistan left-arm speedster who also had a close lbw appeal turned down against Simon Katich.
Australia reached lunch on 36 for one after captain Ricky Ponting survived a tricky period to reach the interval unbeaten on 14 with Katich 11 not out.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had won the toss and put Australia into bat under murky skies at Lord's after questionable light had forced a 90-minute delay.
The floodlights were not employed because second Test venue Headingley does not have them and Pakistan - the designated home team - wanted to ensure consistency across the series.
Aamer made the most of the conditions, moving the ball dangerously both ways to engineer the early breakthrough.
After beating Katich's outside edge, Aamer cut one back into the Australian left-hander and almost squeezed it between bat and pad onto the stumps.
Two balls later, Katich was fortunate to survive a strong lbw shout from Aamer after umpire Rudi Koertzen indicated - incorrectly according to television replays - - ruled that the ball had clipped an inside edge before thudding into his pad.
Watson had got off the mark with a glorious extra cover drive off Mohammad Asif but he was in all sorts of trouble against Aamer's vicious swing.
Aamer, bowling left-arm over, angled three deliveries across Watson before swinging one sharply back in to strike the pad as the Australian played no shot.
Watson survived that appeal because the ball was travelling over the stumps - but he made the same mistake on the very next delivery and was bowled for four.
Watson again shouldered arms and the ball nipped back to thud into his back pad for what would have been a certain lbw decision - umpire Koertzen's finger was already on the rise - had it not then gone on to hit the stumps.
Aamer had another lbw appeal turned down against Ponting before being replaced at the Pavilion End after his five-over spell yielded one for 13.
The two-match series is being played in England because of the security situation in Pakistan, and Lord's is hosting its first neutral Test since 1912.
The umpires were to undertake a further inspection at 11.15am.
The umpires confirmed that the toss was due to take place at 11.30am with play scheduled to begin at 12pm, weather permitting.
Australia: SR Watson, SM Katich, RT Ponting (Captain), MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, MJ North, TD Paine(WK), SPD Smith, MG Johnson, BW Hilfenhaus, DE Bollinger

Pakistan: Imran Farhat, Salman Butt, Umar Amin, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (Captain), Kamran Akmal (WK), Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hatrick on wait for Spain

Former Liverpool playmaker Xabi Alonso believes Spain have what it takes to make history in two years' time.
The European champions collected their first World Cup thanks to an extra-time triumph over Netherlands at Soccer City on Sunday.
It was only the third occasion a European country had followed up one major tournament triumph with another, an achievement also completed by West Germany and France.
However, on neither of the other occasions did the triumphant team go on to complete a hat-trick.
The bookmakers feel the odds are better for Spain, who have already been installed as favourites to win Euro 2012, which will be co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine.
And while Alonso accepts there is plenty of work ahead of his team-mates before then, the 28-year-old believes the raw talent is certainly there.
"Right now is not the time to think about the future, but of course the basics are there with this team," he said.
"The style is there, the mentality is there and the team spirit is there.
"If we keep working in this way many more big things may come."
Whether Cesc Fabregas is still at Arsenal by then is to be seen.
Throughout his time in South Africa, Fabregas has been at the centre of speculation regarding a potential move to Barcelona.
After finally making an impact at the World Cup following a frustrating tournament when he struggled for form and fitness after breaking a shin on club duty at the end of last season, Fabregas appeared to offer a clue, before quickly correcting himself when the meaning of his words was pointed out.
"I am really proud to have been an Arsenal player," he said, clearly using the past tense.
As welded as he is to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, Fabregas is known to be frustrated at the lack of progress that has been made in five trophy-less years.
He has just spent the last five weeks sharing a dressing room with Barcelona's Gerard Pique, who has now won both the Champions League and the World Cup since quitting Manchester United and returning to the club he first joined as a junior.
With Arsenal starting pre-season training today, Wenger will be looking for some clarity, although for the moment Fabregas is happy to praise the London club's contribution to the most glorious day of his career.
"This is for the Arsenal players, the Arsenal fans, for the manager and all his staff," said Fabregas.
"I have had lots of texts and Blackberry messages. My phone is full.
"I had a text message of congratulations from Arsene Wenger. He said I deserve it. I just think this is for everyone at Arsenal who helped me get to where I am now."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pietersen Not worried About His current form

Star batsman Kevin Pietersen insists he is not worried about his recent poor form for England.
Pietersen, who burst onto the international scene with a flurry of big scores in 2005, has failed to pass 50 in his last 17 one-day international innings for England, the last being back in November 2008 when he scored 111 not out as captain against India in Cuttack.
That has prompted some within in the game, including former England batsman Graham Thorpe, to question the long-term future of the South-African born star's place in the side.
Pietersen, who was upstaged by man of the series Eoin Morgan in England's 3-2 win over Australia, was left out of the squad which beat Bangladesh 2-1 recently in order to rest and recover from a minor thigh injury.
The 30-year-old, who recently became a father for the first time, has enjoyed spending time with his family over the last 10 days, and has shrugged off suggestions that he will not be able to bounce back from his recent poor performances for his country.
He said: "I'm not worried about my form. It happens to every single player. It's difficult when you play all three forms of the game to just keep on going and going and going.
"I don't know if there's a big score for me around the corner. If it happens it happens. I'm not too fussed. I'm not losing any sleep over it .
"This rest has come at a really good time to try and get myself sorted
"I have absolutely loved the time off. I have a brand new child at home and spending time with him has been priceless. The injury is fine. There's no problem with that whatsoever. I will be fit and raring to go for the Pakistan series."
England's Ashes win last summer, their ODI series victory, and May's ICC World Twenty20 triumph over the Australians have led to increased hope that Andrew Strauss' team will be able to retain the famous urn with victory Down Under this winter.
Australia legend Shane Warne has suggested that Strauss' team could have the edge over their old enemy in the series but Pietersen reckons England's recent triumphs will count for nothing when the two sides resume hostilities in Brisbane in November.
"I don't think that the one-day series win and the Twenty20 win will have any effect at all on the Ashes," said the Hampshire batsman.
"The only thing we can take out of those two series is that we know a bit more about their batsmen and bowlers and their fielding positions.
"The Australians are fantastic cricketers. They are tough human beings that will never ever give up so it doesn't matter what the team is like. The warm-up games going in to the first match will be tough because the state cricketers will want to beat England."
Pietersen will now spend another week resting before resuming training ahead of England's four-Test series against Pakistan, which begins at Trent Bridge on July 29.
The Pietermaritzburg-born batsman could return to his current county Hampshire in a bid to get some match practice before the first Test.
"If Hampshire have a couple of games then I could turn out for them," he added. "I'll have to have a look at the fixtures first but I'd love to. I love playing for Hampshire. It's a great day out and they are a great bunch of guys down there."
Pietersen is expected to join either Surrey or Middlesex when his contract expires at Hampshire at the end of the season.
Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser is hopeful of luring Pietersen to Lord's but he is not concerned about where he will be playing county cricket next season.
"I actually haven't got a clue where I'll be next season. I don't deal with that kind of thing, my agent does," Pietersen said.
"It's nice of Angus to say he's interested in signing me. Middlesex is close to home. I'm definitely looking at a London club because I live in London, I do all my training in London. I do all my rehab in London, but it's the last thing I'm worried about at the moment."
:: Kevin Pietersen is the Brylcreem Boy and face of their new range, which includes new Cream, Clay and Extreme Gel.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Indian Bowling Exposed At Warm Up Game

A blunt Indian bowling attack stood exposed as Sri Lanka Board President's XI scored a mammoth 432 for five on the opening day of the three-day warm up game here on Tuesday.

Sri Lankan top order crushed the Indian attack disdainfully as opener Upul Tharanga (116), Thilina Kandambi (101) and Thilan Samaraweera (102) smashed quick-fire centuries to have the number one Test side on the mat.

Dinesh Chandimal (5) and Kuashjal Silva (6) were at the crease for Sri Lanka when stumps were drawn for the day at the Colts Cricket Club Ground.

The hosts scored at a furious pace, with a run-rate close to five, as more than half of the runs came through boundaries.

India badly missed injured pace duo of Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth as none of the six bowlers used by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni could bowl economically let alone trouble the rival batsmen.

Spin spearhead Harbhajan Singh's absence from the line-up due to viral fever just compounded the fitness problems for India as the other tweakers failed to make an impression.

Although Pragyan Ojha (3/133) and Amit Mishra (2/120) shared five wickets between them but together they gave away 253 runs in 50 overs they bowled.

Pacers Ishant Sharma and Abhimnayu Mithun went wicket-less and it was not before the 35th over of the innings that India got its first success.

Ojha dismissed left-handed Tharanga but by that time he had raised a solid opening partnership of 188 runs with Lahiru Thirimanne (66) as Sri Lanka made a bright start after winning the toss.

The Hyderabadi left-armer struck for the second time after four overs when he scalped Thirimanne but there was hardly a moment to rejoice after that for the Indians.

The next two batsmen Kandambi and Samaraweera frustrated the Indian bowlers by raising a huge 180-run stand for the third wicket.

India struck thrice towards the end with Mishra removing Kandambi and Ojha sending back Samaraweera but by that time Sri Lanka had completely overwhelmed the hapless Indians.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dhoni - World's richest Cricketer

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has topped the list of world's 10 top earning cricketers compiled by Forbes, which also features four other players from the sub-continent - Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly.

Raking in USD 10 million, Dhoni is at the top of the chart followed by Tendulkar at the second spot with earnings worth USD 8 million in the list of 'The World's Top-Earning Cricketers'.

While Singh and Dravid are at the third and fourth spot, respectively, Ganguly and Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting share the sixth place.

"Paycheck figures include club and national team salaries and commercial endorsement income over the last 12 months," Forbes said.

According to the magazine, Singh earned USD 5.5 million while Dravid and Ganguly raked in USD 5 million and USD 3.5 million, respectively. Ponting also earned USD 3.5 million.

"With its deep-pocketed owners and global appeal, nine of the 10 highest-paid cricket players call the Indian Premier League (IPL) home, the publication added.

At the fifth spot is England's Andrew Flintoff with earnings of USD 4 million followed by Australia's Brett Lee and English cricketer Kevin Pietersen - both at eighth place - and Australian Michael Clarke is ranked tenth.

While Lee and Pietersen raked in USD 3 million each, Clarke earned USD 2.5 million.

"Take Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who plays for the Chennai Super Kings and tops our list as cricket's first USD 10 million-a-year man (that's USD 5,426 for each run scored).

"His USD 8 million in endorsements, from the likes of Reebok, General Electric and Pepsi, is 45 per cent more than any other player.

"Among all Indian athletes and entertainers, Dhoni's 17 corporate sponsors is second to only Bollywood star and co- owner of the Knight Riders, Shah Rukh Khan," Forbes said.

About Tendulkar, the magazine said the holder of numerous offensive records, is considered among the greatest batsman in cricket history.

"... he's one of five IPL players who have been bestowed 'icon' status, meaning he automatically receives a paycheck 15 per cent larger than his highest paid teammate.

"Tendulkar's USD 1.1 million salary from the Mumbai Indians helped push his total earnings to USD 8 million over the last 12 months," it added.

Here is a list of the annual earnings:

MS Dhoni 48 crores

Sachin Tendulkar 38.5 crore

Yuvraj Singh 26 crore

Rahul Dravid 24 crore

Sourav Ganguly 16. 8 crore

Ricky Ponting 16.5 crore

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dhoni - 200 crore Deal

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has signed a whopping Rs 200 crore endorsement deal with a talent management company, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar in the corporate contract sweepstakes.

Dhoni has entered into a three-year deal with Rhiti Sports Management and Mindscapes, which will manage the Indian skipper's long list of endorsements and brand associations, corporate profile, patents and digital rights, images, visibility on social networking sites and merchandise through a joint venture.

Tendulkar's three-year deal with sports management firm Iconix, signed in 2006, was worth Rs 180 crore.

Confirming the development, Rhiti Sports General Manager (Operations) Sanjay Pandey said as per the agreement, the company will be looking after Dhoni's entire spectrum of endorsements.

"Yes, we have entered into a two-year contract with Dhoni for Rs 200 crore. We have signed the contract a week back. From now onwards we will be handling Dhoni's endorsements," Pandey told PTI.

Apart from Dhoni, Rhiti Sports also manages his teammates RP Singh and Harbhajan Singh.

Currently, Dhoni is the country's most expensive sportsperson and is associated with 22 brands such as PepsiCo, Reebok, Aircel, Godrej and Hersheys.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The man who made the difference - FIFA WORLD CUP FINAL

Spain World Cup hero Andres Iniesta believes Fernando Torres will make a decision on his future very soon.
Torres, who endured a disastrous World Cup at a personal level, has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea or Manchester City.
While the Liverpool star is revealing precious little over his next move, his Spanish team-mate expects him to make his mind up shortly after a holiday with his family.
"Fernando was fully focused on Spain and we didn't even talk about his future until last night," said Iniesta, according to The Daily Express.

"He is going to take a break with his wife and daughter [after attending his sister's wedding this week], speak to Liverpool and take things from there.

"Any club that has him is lucky to have him. David Villa says Torres is the most complete striker in the world and his future will be decided in the next two weeks."
Meanwhile, Torres will undergo a scan on the groin injury picked up during the final against Netherlands, which is expected to rule him out for around two months.
When probed about his own future, Iniesta ruled out a possibility of moving to the Premier League despite revealing his dream of playing at Old Trafford.
"It's a league I love to watch, but I never have any intention of leaving Barcelona," he said.

"It's a dream of mine to play at Old Trafford - but as a Barcelona player and nothing else. I hope I stay for my whole career."

Hunting with my Son

Hunting with my Son

As a kid growing up in Oregon, my father used to take me hunting every season. Sometimes we would wake up really early and head out for a day of hunting in the mountains. We would dress from head to toe in camouflage and we even used scent patches with skunk smell or another masking scent so that we could get close to our prey. It was exhilarating to carry my Bear Archery compound bow and hunt our deer in true sportsman fashion.

Other trips included duck and pheasant hunting into the fields and ponds of the valley near where I grew up. These trips were similar in that we donned the usual camouflage from head to toe, but we also were accompanied by our two golden retrievers that were our hunting companions on these trips. I was especially fond of these outings because my father had given me his Remington Wingmaster 12 gauge shotgun when he bought a new one. It was a beautiful shotgun that I had shot many times practicing while trap shooting.

I really got a lot out of these hunting excursions, they taught me many lessons about life and also helped to form a great bond that I still have with my father. Unfortunately, work and my family had taken me in a different direction and I found myself going hunting less often. So when my son recently showed an interest in hunting, I jumped at the opportunity to take my son out and pass on what my father had taught me.

I soon found out that things have not changed much since the days I was sitting in my father’s double bull blinds waiting for theMontana decoys we had set up to attract some whitetail deer or some turkeys that our Moultrie Game Cameras had taken pictures of the day before and I luckily had inherited from my father many of the same hunting gear that I had used as a kid. It made our planning quite easy since all we needed to do was to choose a spot to take our first hunting trip.

We are now counting down the days until we leave for our big hunting trip, both of us eagerly await the events that are about to unfold. I am very excited that I get the chance to do something with my son that is, some might say, a rite of passage into manhood. I just hope that the trip builds the same bonds that I experienced with my father.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

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Maradona Still to his Normalcy

Diego Maradona is still fuming over his side's World Cup exit but could be given a breath of fresh air by Napoli.
Maradona's doctor Alfredo Cahe was initially worried about the legend's health after Argentina's 4-0 thumping by Germany but has revealed that the defeat has no serious implications on his health.
"He is well, but angry with the elimination from the World Cup in South Africa. He is reflecting, but has not fallen into depression," Cahe told Tuttosport.
"He is well, better than I thought he would be. The game against Germany was strange, I thought he would have been in a worse condition.

"I have not seen him as giving up. He is just angry and sad, but he is reflecting."
There have been talks of Maradona quitting his role as Argentina coach and he has been linked with a return to Napoli as coach.
The Vesuviani however, have avoided confirming their interest in the controversial coach.
But Walter Mazzarri, who is the current manager of the club, is looking forward to seeing Maradona at the club as he invites him for a friendly visit.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Brazil's Loss

The Brazilian players didn't have any doubts entering the World Cup, thanks to a team that had won nearly every competition it had played and had added poise and efficiency to its ''Beautiful Game.''

But a bad half against the Netherlands was all it took to derail Brazil's hopes for a record sixth world title. For the second World Cup in a row, Brazil failed to get past the quarterfinals, losing 2-1 to the Dutch despite taking an early lead on Friday in Port Elizabeth.

Four years ago, it was a disappointing loss to France that kept the Brazilians from advancing. But now the players say it feels much worse.

''The loss really hurts this time, much more than in 2006,'' said Kaka, a starter for Brazil in both tournaments. ''This one really got to us, there is a lot of pain, because of all that we had done so far, because of where we thought we could get.''

Brazil arrived as one of the World Cup favorites despite a revamped squad after the tournament in Germany. Dunga had little experience as a coach, but he gave Brazil a new style that quickly produced significant results.

Under the command of the former defensive midfielder, Brazil won the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup, and beat Argentina, Italy, England and Portugal in friendlies. The country also won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished first in South American World Cup qualifying.

Brazil also had a solid start in South Africa, beating North Korea 2-1 and Ivory Coast 3-1 before being held 0-0 by Portugal. It played its best match in the 3-0 win over Chile in the second round to setup the clash with the Dutch.

The expectations were high back home and among the players.

''It was a shock to everyone,'' Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said of the loss. ''We knew the fans had a lot of hope that we would win this time.''

Robinho gave Brazil an early lead at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, but Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder scored twice in the second half to eliminate the Brazilians.

Midfielder Felipe Melo is leaving South Africa taking much of the blame for the loss. After a remarkable pass to contribute to Robinho's goal, Melo was involved in both plays that led to the Dutch's goals, then was red carded for an unnecessary foul that left Brazil needing to rally with a man down.

''I have to apologize to the Brazilian fans,'' he said.

The Brazilian defense, which arrived as one of the best in the world with Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio and Juan, also unexpectedly fell apart against the Netherlands, at a terrible time for the five-time champions.

''We know the Brazilian fans are very sad now because of our elimination,'' Kaka said. ''But it's worse for the players, no one is hurting more than we are.''

Dunga made very few changes to the Brazilian squad after taking over following the 2006 World Cup, and players have said all along that the group was much more united than four years ago. Julio Cesar said Dunga was able to put together a ''group of friends, of brothers.''

Every Brazilian player cried in the locker room after the loss, the goalkeeper said.

''Without a doubt everyone was sad, we didn't expect it to end like this,'' Dunga said. ''You could see it in the players' faces. But I'm very proud to have worked with this group.''

Eight players from this year's team were with Brazil when it lost 1-0 to France in 2006, including starters Lucio, Juan, Kaka and Gilberto Silva.

Brazil will likely need another revamping of its squad for the 2014 World Cup at home. It arrived in South Africa with the tournament's oldest squad, and many players will not be returning. Defender Lucio and Juan are probably done, as is midfielder Gilberto Silva after playing in his third World Cup.

But this time it likely won't be Dunga who is responsible for the renovation, as he hinted after the loss to the Netherlands that he will not continue ahead of the national team. He had a four-year contract and will likely not try to extend it.

Finding a new coach might be the first step for Brazil to get over the disappointment in South Africa, but players know it won't be easy.

''Now it's time to go home, hug our relatives and hope time will help us forget what happened,'' Julio Cesar said. ''Only time can do that.''

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Maradona's reaction to the loss

''I may leave tomorrow, but I'd like that these boys continue showing who they are and keep playing real Argentina football,'' said Maradona, looking exhausted and heartbroken.

Asked to clarify his plans, he said ''I'll have to think carefully about it ... and talk with my family, and the players. There are many issues here.''

Maradona, widely considered Argentina's all-time greatest player, was derided back home before the tournament for leading the team by instinct and emotion rather than tactics. He attacked at his critics with a stream of profanities when Argentina qualified for the World Cup at the last minute.

© AP
After three group stage victories and a convincing 3-1 win over Mexico in the round of 16, even his detractors began questioning whether they had underestimated his coaching abilities.

Maradona's affectionate hugs and go-get-'em pep talks seemed to yield better results than the tactical advice handed out by more serious coaches like England's Fabio Capello.

Then Germany came along.

Argentina and Maradona didn't know how to respond when Thomas Mueller's early goal left the South Americans trailing for the first time in the tournament.

Maradona made no changes at halftime, even though his team had struggled throughout the first half, losing possession as soon as it crossed into the German area. He sent on midfielder Javier Pastore for defender Nicolas Otamendi after Germany went up 2-0 and was getting ready to further boost the attack with striker Sergio Aguero when Arne Friedrich made it 3-0.

With the game virtually over, Maradona hugged Aguero - his son-in-law - and clung to him as the Germans celebrated.

''This is the most difficult experience of my life, because to (lose) in front of so many good players, such good people, such good professionals is like getting punched by Muhammad Ali,'' he said. ''I don't have any energy left.''

He said he'd only felt similar emotions in life on the day he retired from soccer.

Still, Maradona didn't accept any blame for the crushing defeat, and lashed out at a reporter who questioned whether his critics in Argentina might be satisfied with the loss.

''Are you joking,'' he said. ''This is a country where you live and breathe football. I don't think that anyone will be happy when the team loses 4-0.''

Friday, July 2, 2010


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Dhoni Ready to tie Knot

Mahendra Singh Dhoni will tie the knot with childhood friend Sakshi Singh Rawat in a hush-hush ceremony on Sunday night at a farmhouse about 40km from Dehradun.
The 28-year-old wicket-keeper batsman got engaged to Sakshi, a 23-year-old hotel management student, at a private ceremony last night.

The wedding is also expected to be a private affair with only very close family members and friends, including Dhoni's teammates Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra, among those attending.

BCCI bigwigs including President Shashank Manohar are also expected to attend the wedding.

Although family sources had indicated after the engagement that the marriage will take place in October, India's tight schedule in the next few months might have prompted the preponement.

Despite being a private ceremony, the wedding will have its share of glamour as Dhoni's Bollywood friend John Abraham is reportedly here to attend the marriage.

The couple is expected to host a reception in Mumbai on July 7, which also happens to be Dhoni's 29th birthday.

Dhoni and Sakshi, who hails from Aurangabad, had been school friends at DAV, Shamily in Ranchi.

"Their fathers worked together in MECON, and the Rawats moved to Dehradun after retirement," a family friend said.

The Indian captain is currently enjoying a rare break from international cricket and will be next seen in action during a three-Test series against Sri Lanka scheduled to begin from July 18 at Galle.

Dhoni, who made his international debut against Bangladesh in December 2004, has so far played 43 Tests, 166 ODIs and 25 T20s.

Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Cup Twenty20, CB Series of 2007-08, and the Border-Gavaskar trophy 2008 beating Australia 2-0.

He also captained Chennai Super Kings to victory in this year's Indian Premier League. He is now captain of India in all three forms of the game, leading the team to its first ever bilateral ODI series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Under his leadership, India attained the number one status in Test cricket and became number two this year in ODI rankings.

Dhoni has also been the recipient of ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2008 and 2009 (the first Indian to achieve this feat). He was bestowed the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour in 2009.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lalit Modi's DownFall - A lesson for others

Suspended IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi is paying the price for his "autocratic" style of functioning and his potential downfall is a lesson for administrators in similar position, according to former South African cricket boss Dr Ali Bacher.

Bacher said Modi had no doubt played a part in making the Indian Premier League an extraordinary success but his tendency to take unilateral decisions ultimately paved his downfall.

"There is no doubt that the IPL is an extra-ordinary success but his style of functioning created a lot of resentment among the other Board members. You cannot ignore the others for too long. You cannot vest all the powers on one person", Bacher told a group of visiting Indian journalists here.

"He (Modi) was an opportunist and his potential downfall is a lesson for persons in similar position. He is paying the price for all that now", he said.

Bacher, whose company was involved in installing floodlights in some of the IPL venues, said his payments were delayed for over 15 months as the organisers and the host association kept dilly-dallying on the payment issue.

"I met Modi and he assured me that the payment will be done. Though the payment was delayed, he kept his word with me," Bacher, who was the Managing Director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa from 1991 to 2000, said.

Bacher also criticised Modi for trying to take credit for innovating the Twenty20 format of the game, saying the shortest format of the game started in England and had become quite popular there.

The former administrator said that while T20 cricket had become popular, it was imperative to strike the right balance among all the three formats when the calendars are drawn.

"There is too much cricket being played these days. The top teams play too much and that is certainly a concern.

Everything has to be balanced. T20 is popular, but if we play too much it will be a problem", he said.

Bacher, who was largely responsible for bringing South Africa back into international cricket following the apartheid era, is concerned that the South African system is no longer producing quality black cricketers.

"After the retirement of (Makhaya) Ntini, not many black cricketers are making it to the national squad on merit. If this trend continues for some more years, it could pose a lot of problems", he reckoned.

"May be the development programmes have lost its impetus.

More needs to be done to bring the desired results. Eighty percent of the population are black Africans and it is important that we have more black cricketers", he said.

Bacher singled out batting great Sachin Tendulkar for special praise among contemporary cricketers, saying he was one of the greatest cricketers of all time and a "big asset" for Indian cricket.

"Sachin has never changed, he is truly great...He is a great asset to Indian cricket and world cricket. The ICC should make him the game's ambassador after his retirement. He is always going to be special", he said.