Young Guns Need To Fire

Young guns need to fire

Dambulla, Aug. 17: At the start of the year, the Indian selectors, under the powerful influence of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, embarked on a “Mission 2011 programme”. The seniors in the squad were eased, nay, shunted out without much ado and fresh legs and young blood infused into the team. These are early days yet for Dhoni’s boys but given their performances over the last eight months or so, they are on the right path.

It is imperative to look to the future and not bother too much about results. Dhoni’s gameplan of having a squad with a minimum experience of 50 games per individual before the quadrennial event in three years time, is indeed a vision for the future. The immediate results in the tri-series in Australia were awesome as the Indians cut the all-conquering Aussies to size, winning two straight finals and condemning the third to a mere footnote.

Following that, the Indians haven’t had much title success, losing both the Bangladesh tri-series and the Asia Cup final. It must have hurt but the fact is two finals don’t make a summer; the talent in the side is too good to be discarded and though Sachin Tendulkar will be conspicuous by his absence, the Indian middle-order does seem to have a good ring to it.

Things will become much clearer in this five-match series against Sri Lanka beginning at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium on Monday. The last time the teams met in a bi-lateral tussle, India won 2-1 in a four-match series at home but closer to heart will be the final defeat in Pakistan last month where a certain Ajantha Mendis spun them to their doom.

Revenge, then, won’t be far from their minds, though the unflappable Dhoni has larger interests at heart.

Much water has flowed since and the Indians would have learnt their lessons but tackling Mendis won’t be easy. Seldom has the young Indian squad faced a bowler of his variety but if there is one thing going in their favour, it is their confidence.

Much of the team’s success has been due to the start provided by the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, and it’s a pity that the former, in such rip-roaring form in the Test series, will most likely sit out of the first game after twisting his ankle during fielding practice in the evening.

Getting good starts is one thing but consolidating is equally is equally important and this is where Suresh Raina, coming in at No.3, has filled in nicely. The biggest plus with Raina is that he can dominate the attack if needed, but also drop anchor if such a situation arises. Given the scenario, it isn’t surprising that Dhoni has decided to go in with six batsmen and five bowlers but Sehwag’s injury means Virat Kohli might get to make his debut.

Of course, it is just the first game and if things fall in place for the Indians, they might give the duo a chance in the other matches but then again, much of it will depend on how they fare in the two games here.

Three of the five pacemen in Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and R.P. Singh will have the support of the two spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha and the whole squad has a good, rounded look to it. Then again, the feel-good factor will not count for much against Mahela Jayawardena’s men, who are fiercely proud of their record at home and are extremely dangerous on their turf. Having said that, the way this series goes will give us an indication of where we are, vis-†-vis Mission 2011.

‘The start is important’

Dambulla, Aug. 17: One-day cricket is all about batting and big scores; the bowlers have to just run in and deliver on lifeless pitches and suffer the agony. But in these sub-continental conditions, run-making may not be easy. In any form of cricket, the start provided by the openers is important, given the first powerplay advantage.

When in the mood, there is no-one more destructive than Virender Sehwag as bowlers the world over will agree and it is indeed sheer bad luck that the Delhi batsman twisted his ankle in practice to all but rule himself out of Monday’s encounter.

“The start is very important, but it doesn’t mean the entire pressure is on the openers to give you a good start. Viru is the sort of player who takes a fair amount of risk, he is a stroke player, but whenever he gives us a good start we have a fair chance of winning. They will have added responsibility but no real pressure,” Dhoni had said earlier. But even he wouldn’t have bargained for Sehwag’s untimely injury, which puts a spoke in his plans.

The Indian skipper, however, admitted that the bowlers weren’t up to scratch in the last couple of tournaments which have ended in disasters in the final.

“We haven’t been at our best in bowling. The last two series, most of the wickets were favourable for the batsmen. It’s not worries, we can probably do a bit better on placid tracks. Hopefully, the bowlers will take on the responsibility.”

If anything, Dhoni is a picture of confident calm, and at no point of time does he let you feel that it was in short supply.

“We were never low on confidence, it was good to have a good start (in the practice game). We got used to the conditions in Sri Lanka which are different, and it was a nice experience for the bowlers on where to bowl on these sorts of wickets.”

With a six batsmen, five-bowler strategy, Dhoni said S Badrinath was an unlikely starter. “It depends on when he gets a chance. It’s not that he is replacing Sachin Tendulkar, he’s second in line.” The extra batsman before him (Virat Kohli) will get a chance and then Badri will get a chance.

Don Bradman’s letters found

Melbourne, Aug. 17: Himself a nightmare for premier bowlers of his time, Don Bradman wanted to give a fair deal to bowlers by giving batsmen LBW out for deliveries that pitch outside off and leg stump, provided they don’t offer a shot, according to his private letters discovered recently.

Private letters written by Bradman, mostly to former Australian Board chairman Bob Parish, discovered by Cricket Australia just days before his birth centenary on August 27, revealed his thoughts on many issues including LBW laws, chucking, ban on tours to South Africa during the apartheid era and World Series Cricket.

The letters appeared in local media on Sunday. “Why not give him (batsman) out LBW to a ball not pitched between wicket and wicket providing he makes no attempt to hit the ball,” he wrote. – PTI

Eighth wonder

Beijing, Aug. 17: Michael Phelps cemented his place in Olympics history on Sunday, capping a sensational week by becoming the first athlete ever to win eight gold medals in one Games.

Phelps brought the curtain down on a record-breaking week of swimming when he directed the US team to victory in the 4x100m medley relay and overtook fellow US legend Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals at Munich 36 years ago.

The 23-year-old Phelps also broke seven world records through the week and became the most successful Olympian of all time with a career 14 gold medals.

“I’m lost for words,” he said.

“The whole thing, every race, one after the other from winning by one-hundredth of a second to finishing if off with a world record. It’s an amazing experience,” he added, crediting the relay team for making it possible.

His butterfly leg was key to the relay victory, as he turned a third-place behind Japan and Australia at the halfway point into a lead which freestylist Jason Lezak would never surrender.

Daily superhuman performances saw Phelps constantly command centre stage in Beijing.

‘Nothing is impossible’

Beijing, Aug. 17: Michael Phelps completed his stunning display of swimming supremacy with an historic eighth gold medal at the Beijing Games Sunday, and said his every Olympic aim was achieved.

“Everything was accomplished,” Phelps said. “Doing all best times, winning every race.”

It was a feat that many believed couldn’t be done, and he did it in emphatic style. Seven of Phelps’s eight gold were won in world-record time. The only exception was the 100m butterfly, won in a personal best of 50.58 seconds that was just one one-hundredth of a second in front of Serbian Milorad Cavic.

Along the way to surpassing Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven gold at one Games, Phelps scaled the summit of Olympic achievement, matching and then surging past the record nine career gold medals of Games icons Spitz, Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis and Larysa Latynina.

But the dream, Phelps said, wasn’t just about individual glory, but about changing the face of swimming forever. “It’s fun,” Phelps said.

“From here it is a continuation with my goal of raising the sport of swimming as high as I can in the US… 70,000 fans will be watching the relay at the (NFL) Ravens game tonight (the team based in his home town of Baltimore), and it has been shown at sports events across the country. I have heard people say it’s crazy, they are out to dinner and swimming is on the television. For me, it’s still work in progress,” he added.

For the fiercely competitive Phelps, there was also the satisfaction of proving the doubters wrong. “The greatest thing is proving nothing is impossible,” Phelps said.

“So many people said it couldn’t be done, but all it takes is an imagination. That is something I have learned,” he added.

“After the 200 individual medley, I started to think we could get there, that was when I allowed myself to believe a little bit, it was pretty exciting,” he said.

In all he swam 17 times over nine days, carefully measuring his effort and always coming through when it mattered. “It has been from getting my hand on the wall and winning by one one-hundredth to doing my best times in every event. It has been nothing but an upward rollercoaster, and it has also been nothing but fun,” Phelps said.

At the age of 23, Phelps has set a record for the total number of medals won by a male Olympian with 16.

Russian gymnast Nikolai Andrianov with 15 – seven gold, five silver and three bronze in 1972, 1976 and 1980 – had held the mark.

Jam-boree in women’s 100

Beijing, Aug. 17: Shelly-Ann Fraser surged to Jamaica’s first Olympic women’s 100 meters gold medal on Sunday and led compatriots Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart to the event’s first national podium sweep.

A day after Usain Bolt claimed a first men’s 100m crown for the Caribbean island, 21-year-old Fraser clocked 10.78 seconds to claim the title ahead of her compatriots, who were both awarded silver after a photo finish failed to separate them.

“I can’t believe I actually won. Nobody expected me to win, so there was no pressure,” Fraser told reporters.

“I’m so excited, I really am, I can’t wait to get home,” she added.

Simpson and Stewart were given the same time of 10.98 ahead of former world champion Lauryn Williams, the first of a trio of Americans in the race that had been billed as US vs Jamaica.

“It’s wonderful, the first three for Jamaica. History,” Simpson said. “To be silver medalist, I’m really happy, it was a challenging time coming to these Olympics.”

Stewart, who like her fellow silver medalist is 24, was equally delighted. “It’s about time, we’ve been waiting for this, so many great athletes have come so close and we were able to pull it off tonight,” she said.

American Muna Lee, who won the US trial last month, was fifth and said she thought one of her rivals had got away early. “It’ll be alright, it was just one of those days. I felt like someone had false started,” she said.

The start did look a bit ragged and Simpson made the early running in the inside lane before Fraser came charging down lane four.

Simpson could have clinched the silver on her own if she had dipped for the line and Stewart’s lean forward made the pair inseparable after a several minutes of examination by officials.

For Fraser, the youngest member of the trio who kept world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown out of the event in Beijing, it was a first major title.

Former world champion Torri Edwards of the United States, the fastest woman in the world this year, finished last with Jeanette Kwakye sixth for Britain.

Defending champion Yuliya Nestsiarenka of Belarus failed to reach the final after finishing fifth in her semifinal earlier on Sunday evening. – Reuters

Russia sweep tennis medals

Beijing, Aug. 17: Elena Dementieva won a combustible final against Dinara Safina to head a Russian one-two-three in the Olympic women’s singles on Sunday. The world number seven recovered from an error-strewn first set to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, making up for her disappointment in losing the 2000 final to Venus Williams.

Dementieva clenched her fists in celebration and then wiped away tears of joy after stopping the in-form Safina for the first time in four attempts this year. “It’s very difficult to explain the way I feel right now. It will take a few days before I realise I’m Olympic champion. This is for sure the biggest moment in my career, in my life. I will never forget this moment,” Dementieva said.

Russia had already been guaranteed the first tennis podium sweep in 100 years when Vera Zvonareva, a late call-up for the injured Maria Sharapova, clinched the bronze medal play-off against China’s Li Na 6-0, 7-5. “Having three Russian girls left standing in the Olympics is a huge moment for Russia,” Dementieva said.

“I know we were expecting and planning for some medals but I don’t think anyone could expect three medals from the girls. So this is really big moment for Russia,” she said. Meanwhile, 2000 doubles champions Serena and Venus Williams won their second title with a one-sided 6-2, 6-0 win against Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain.

“Today my moment in time was with my sister who I love almost more than anyone in the world. It’s just amazing to think that we could participate and bring home a gold medal,” Venus said.

Unstoppable Nadal grabs gold

Beijing, Aug. 17: Spain’s Rafael Nadal thrashed Chilean Fernando Gonzalez to claim the Olympic Games men’s singles title on Sunday. Nadal, who becomes world number one on Monday, won 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 to become the first top-five champion and the only Spanish gold medallist.

“I just want to enjoy this moment because I’m having an unbelievable year,” Nadal said. “It’s more than my best dreams so I want to enjoy the moment. I know how difficult it is to win these things, especially here. Winning here for me is unbelievable,” he said.

Gonzalez adds the silver medal to his singles bronze and doubles gold from Athens 2004. “It’s a great goal – I did it in Athens and now I did it here,” he said. “The Olympics means really a lot to me. So that’s why I’m really happy. I’m little bit sad about the match. But all things considered, I’m really happy,” he added.

Nadal raced through the first set, breaking at 1-0, creating two set points with a delicate drop shot and finishing it with a forehand winner. Gonzalez pummelled an inside-out forehand into the right corner to create two second-set points on Nadal’s serve, but put a simple volley wide and netted twice as the Spaniard escaped.

Nadal was never behind in the tie-break and thumped his chest as he sprayed a punishing forehand down the line for four set points. Gonzalez miscued a forehand to go two sets down. The Chilean was tottering and Nadal landed the knock-out blow when he broke for a 3-1 lead in the third. With victory in sight, Nadal saved two break points as he scurried to a Gonzalez drop-shot and guided the ball back past his opponent.

Gonzalez survived three match points at 2-5 but the outcome was inevitable and the Chilean could not get back a wide-angled forehand on the first match point in the next game. Nadal is set to become number one after more than three years ranked second behind Roger Federer.

He has now won eight titles this year including his fourth French Open crown and first Wimbledon trophy, both at the expense of the Swiss, and has lost just once in 39 matches. Nadal, an anonymous doubles player at Athens 2004, claims Spain’s first tennis gold after Jordi Arrese and Sergi Bruguera were losing finalists in 1992 and 1996 respectively. Gonzalez’s third Olympic medal comes after he was embroiled in a row after his semifinal with James Blake, who accused him of bad sportsmanship.

Taekema keeps Dutch afloat

Beijing, Aug. 17: Taeke Taekema slammed a last-second penalty corner as the Netherlands held reigning champions Australia to a crucial 2-2 draw in the Olympic men’s field hockey on Sunday. In a match-up between the Athens Games finalists, the Kookaburras led 2-1 till the last 25 seconds through goals by Eddie Ockenden and Luke Doerner, before Taekema’s second goal tied the game.

The draw virtually assured both teams a place in the semifinals from pool B, with nearest challengers Britain three points adrift ahead of the last round of league matches on Tuesday. Former champions Pakistan, who were lying in fourth place, were knocked out of contention. Meanwhile, Germany resurrected their semifinal hopes with a 1-0 win over pool A leaders Spain, Moritz Fuerste scoring the winner a minute before half-time.

In a race wide open, Germany trail by just one point behind Spain’s nine, while New Zealand and South Korea are in third place with seven points each. The Germans must defeat the Kiwis on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals, while Spain needs to beat the Koreans. “It’s not over by any means,” said German coach Markus Weise. “No one in my team is taking anything for granted.” New Zealand were denied a valuable point when they were locked in a 2-2 draw with hosts China. ῠῠ

Powell & Gay left to ponder about Bolt

Beijing, Aug. 17: They arrived at the Olympics with no-one being able to split them but Usain Bolt’s astonishing performance in the 100 metres leaves Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay with a lot of sorting out to do if they are to redress the balance between them.

Bolt has emerged from the event as the most dominant force since Maurice Greene when the ‘Kansas Comet’ won the world title in 1997, went on to break the world record and climaxed with the Olympic crown in Sydney in 2000.

Gay and Powell must be scratching their heads as to what to do to hit back at Bolt.

Both had far more experience at major championships than the 21-year-old which ultimately was the one chink in his armour that they could hold on to hoping he would crack.

Powell is the one who will have to do the most soul searching for once again he failed to rise to the big occasion with just a Commonwealth Games title to his name and that was one he nearly let slip as well in 2006.

There is no doubt of his talent – he is the only athlete to have run under 9.80sec five times – but his body language and demeanour suggests that he will always struggle to challenge Bolt for major honours.

“He is the best ever sprinter and I’ve said that before,” said the 25-year-old, who had been seen at one point as being the man most likely to end Jamaica’s record of never winning gold in the Olympic 100m.

“He has run 9.69 and got the gold so he is definitely the greatest. It was a spectacular performance and he was definitely the best here. He could have run faster if he had run straight through the line.”

Powell insisted that his mind was fine it was just his legs that wouldn’t operate as he wanted them to but to many the excuse had been used before by the gentle giant from Jamaica. Gay at least can say he wasn’t beaten by Bolt.

Ilin starves himself to win gold

Beijing, Aug. 17: Weightlifter Ilya Ilin, who had not eaten properly for three days to make the weight cut, won Kazakhstan’s first gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in sudden-death fashion on Sunday.

In a contest that went to the last lift, and which could have been decided by a body weight tiebreak, Ilin, the 2006 world champion, shed four kilograms over three days to qualify for the 94kg limit.

Working virtually on an empty stomach, he heaved 180kg in the snatch and 226kg in the clean and jerk for a total lift of 406kg.

The 20-year-old said he was four kilograms above the cut by Thursday.

“I didn’t eat anything, that’s all,” he shrugged. “Of course I have to eat soon!”

It was a close call.

Three men – Ilin, European champion Szymon Kolecki of Poland and Georgia’s Arsen Kasabiev – were in contention going into the third and last clean and jerk lift after Ilin had heaved 223kg for his second effort to push his interim total to a competition-best 403kg.

That dashed the gold medal hopes of Russian Khadzhimurat Akkaev, the Athens Olympics silver medallist four years ago, who had set the best intermediate result earlier in the day of 402kg.

Oz girls take top spot despite Russia fright

Beijing, Aug. 17: World champions Australia dug themselves out of a hole to secure top spot in their first-round group in the Olympic women’s basketball tournament on Sunday.

Captain Lauren Jackson and Belinda Snell combined for 32 points as the Australians beat European champions Russia 75-55 after trailing by 10 points at half-time.

“We just stuck with it. We need to win this game so badly. We put a scare into ourselves,” Jackson said after her team made it five wins out of five in Group A.

Australia, bidding to stop the United States winning their fourth straight Olympic title, next play the fourth-ranked team in Group B in the quarterfinals.

American-born Becky Hammon, who took Russian citizenship to play at the Beijing Games, scored 20 points but only four in the second half as the Australians stepped up their defence.

Russia, who had also already qualified for the quarter-finals, finished runners-up in Group A and will still be expected to contest the medal places.

Spain booked their place in the last eight by thrashing winless Mali 79-47 in Group B.

Indian shooters fail again

Beijing, Aug. 17: Shooter Gagan Narang on Sunday came tantalisingly close to booking a berth in the final but luck deserted him when he needed it most in the 50m rifle 3-position event of the Beijing Olympics here.

Gagan, who had also just failed to qualify for the 10m Air Rifle event before losing on countback, faltered in kneeling and eventually finished an unlucky 13th with his personal best total of 1168. Compatriot Sanjeev Rajput aggregated 1163 (395 in prone, 380 in standing and 387 in kneeling) to finish 26th in the qualifying round. Gagan was impressive in prone, firing 98,99,98 and 99 to tally 394 and though did better in standing, which accounted for 389, he was right in the mix at fourth place with one foot in the final.

Lin is shuttle king

Beijing, Aug. 17: China’s world number one Lin Dan clinched gold in the Olympic badminton on Sunday, outclassing Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and avenging his first round loss in Athens four years ago.

World champion Lin produced a silky smooth performance that left second seed Lee hopelessly outgunned, winning 21-12, 21-8 and sparking wild celebrations from the packed Chinese crowd. Lin, a superstar in China where badminton is a passion, collapsed on the ground before saluting to the crowd with a Chinese flag wrapped around his shoulders. A soldier in the People’s Liberation Army, Lin raced over to the crowd where he was grabbed and hugged.

With girlfriend and world number one shuttler Xie Xingfang, who lost her gold medal match the day before, watching from the stands, Lin oozed confidence and skill throughout the match. The loss was heartbreak for the mild-mannered Lee and for Malaysia which had been counting on their champion to deliver the country’s first ever Olympic gold in any sport. Lee made a series of costly errors in the first game as Lin produced a brilliant performance.

Akhil on guard as he prepares for quarters

Beijing, Aug. 17: Umpteen Davids have slain many a Goliath in the world of boxing and Akhil Kumar, standing on the threshold of history, does not want to step on a banana skin and miss out on his first Olympic medal on Monday.

For someone who has beaten the world champion in his previous round, Monday’s quarterfinal bout against the relatively unheralded Veaceslav Gojan of Moldova should ideally be a cakewalk.

Akhil, however, refuses to lower his guard and says underestimating opponents can often be fatal. “You never underestimate an opponent, much like you never get overawed by his reputation,” the bantam weight (54kg) boxer, who is just one win away from an Olympic medal, said here on Sunday. “A number of great players have bitten the dust just because they took it for granted. The Russian world champion (Sergey Vodopyanov) made the same mistake and underestimated me. See who reached the quarterfinals.

“It’s a cardinal sin in any other sport and I’m not going to step into the ring thinking he would serve it on a platter,” the Haryana boxer said. Even before he boarded the flight to Beijing, Akhil has been insisting that he would not settle for anything less than gold. Asked if that was arrogance, Akhil said he is aware of the fine line that separates confidence from complacency.

“I’m not complacent at all. I’m just confident, confident of my ability. I want to be the first Indian boxer to have an Olympic medal dangling from his neck and that just cannot happen if I am not confident enough.ῠ “Tomorrow is my medal bout, it’s too big an occasion to get complacent. And I’m confident because I know I’m not complacent,” Akhil said.

The 27-year-old has not faced Gojan before but the boxer says he has seen enough recordings of the Moldovan. “I’m thankful to Doordarshan, they provided me some of those recordings. I’m consulting my coaches and formulating a strategy. All I can say is that I would not turn up under-prepared tomorrow,” he asserted. Though overwhelmed by the deluge of wishes flowing from all quarters, Akhil is hurt by the way boxers are treated back home and he pleaded all to provide financial security to pugilists.

Halkia fails test for dope

Beijing, Aug. 17: Olympic champion hurdler Fani Halkia has dragged Greece’s reputation through the mud by failing a drugs test and being sent home, Greek Olympic Committee chief Minos Kyriakou said on Sunday.ῠ Halkia tested positive for methyltrienolone, better known as M3, a banned steroid. She has denied any wrongdoing.

She was hailed as the new force in Greek athletics after winning gold in 2004 in Athens in the women’s 400 metres hurdles, but has scarcely run since.ῠ “It would be best if she had just stayed at home instead of dragging our country’s name through the mud,” an angry Kyriakou said.

“If you want to commit suicide it is up to you but you do not have the right to kill your country. It is so sad the Athens Games golden girl was caught doping.”ῠ Greece have lost a total of 18 athletes due to positive drugs tests in the run-up to the Games.ῠῠ

Tunisian kills ‘Grant’ hopes

Beijing, Aug. 17: Oussama Mellouli shattered Australian Grant Hackett’s Olympic treble dream and put behind him his own drugs nightmare with an upset triumph in the 1500-metres freestyle at the Beijing Olympics on Sunday. Mellouli, 24, killed off Hackett’s bid to become the first man to win three Olympic titles in the same event and also claim Tunisia’s first-ever Olympic swimming gold medal.

Mellouli, planning on swimming a strong final 800m, took over the lead with 300m left and held off Hackett’s spirited finish to win in 14 minutes 40.84 seconds. It was Olympic heartbreak for the world record holder and four-time world champion Hackett, who was bidding to add the Beijing crown to the titles he won in Sydney and Athens.

While Hackett reflected on what might have been in his last Olympic Games, Mellouli saw his surprise victory as redemption. The Tunisian served an 18-month doping ban after becoming his country’s first swimming world champion with a come-from-behind win in the 800m freestyle with Hackett trailing in seventh at last year’s world championships in Melbourne.

Kingdom Of Heaven supreme

Mysore, Aug. 17: Dr. M.A.M’s Kingdom Of Heaven reigned supreme in the opening day’s feature, the Royal Calcutta Turf Club Cup, at Mysore on Thursday. After tracking the pace setting Assaye into the straight, Vinod Shinde took the Robert Foley trainee to the front 300 metres left to travel in the seven furlong race. He held on to the lead gamely to score from late finishing Hidden Pleasures. The joint favourite, Stone Of Destiny, devoured much ground after a lazy start to be a close fourth behind the tiring Assaye.

Earlier in the day, Vinod’s tactical ride saw the other ward of Robert Foley, Mill Fontaine, moving into contention right on time to get the better of Pat On The Back in the first division of the Srirangapattana Plate, for horses in the 20 to 45 category. Vinod sat in the mid group before pulling his mount off the fence approaching the final furlong and rode out vigorously to sped past Pat On The Back inside the final furlong. The well-bet Always For You produced a stunning gallop when it mattered most through a narrow gap to edge out the front running duo, Paint Me Red and Clouseau, in a blanket finish in the second division of the same version.

Clouseau lost a certain race as the lose blinkers was disturbing him throughout the straight.

The next-in-demand Priceless Legacy (Ramandeep Bal up) disputed for the lead with the favourite Touch Of Paradise all the way in the 1200 metres Meerat Plate, before kicking clear in straight to win the opener quiet convincingly from the latter. The three-year-old Swiss Queen was strongly fancied to win the Mysore Jewellery Mart Gold Cup. But she was no match for the aged Clueless Puzzle who made every post of the 1200 metres trip a winning one under Mahendran to give trainer Michael Bobby a double, having saddled earlier Priceless Legacy. The Queen has to be content with the runner-up, after a hot chase.

The connections of Buckpasser Junior cashed in on the gelding’s Bangalore form. The Warren Singh trainee was swiftly taken to the front by apprentice jockey MD. Praveen from a wide out side draw to win the 1400 metres Paddock Plate, with a start to finish effort, from Magical Ecstasy and Cashfirstticketnext.

The Rakesh-trained Dare Don took charge from the tiring front runner Ansonia from a forward position turning for home and pulled away to score an emphatic win in the 1200 metres Mount Everest Plate. Mister Elegant came six wide entering home stretch, then raced towards the fence, by which he had lost nearly three lengths, before finishing three parts of a length back in second.

The lacklustre attitude of Vinod Shinde on the favourite Perfect Promise cost him a certain race. He had a leisurely look back for any possible threat in straight and by the time he realised that Cruise Control was closing the gap on him it was too late. Ridden well off the pace, the 100-1 chance Cruise Control picked up speed under relentless belting of lesser known J. Paswan inside the final half furlong to foil the start to finish bid of Perfect Promise in the concluding event.

HRC put off races by a day

Hyderabad, Aug. 17: The 12th day races of  Hyderabad monsoon season, scheduled for August 17, have been postponed to August 18 due to wet underfoot conditions caused by heavy rains on Saturday night, a release from Hyderabad Race Club (HRC) said here on Sunday.  The card published on Sunday holds good for Monday’s races.

Event stays in Bengaluru

Bengaluru, Aug. 17: The suspense is finally over. The IBSF World Billiards Championship will indeed be held in Bengaluru from September 1-10.  Following the serial bomb blasts in the city last month, there was speculation that the event may be shifted out of the garden city or even postponed. But the terror attacks did little to dampen the spirit of sport.

Big names like Peter Gilchrist and reigning World Professional Billiards champion Mike Russell are among the 24 cueists from 10 countries who have confirmed their entry. Defending champion and local lad Pankaj Advani and former champion Geet Sethi will spearhead the Indian challenge. The championship will be held in points and time format.

Speaking to this newspaper, S. Balasubramanium, vice president, Billiards and Snooker Federation of India said, “Initially there were a few concerns expressed and we nearly put-off the event, but now we have assured all players of adequate security. The show will go on and we will make it a memorable event.”

Meanwhile, the last date for entries, which was August 15, has now been extended to August 22 since there have been no entries from formidable cuesports countries Australia, Pakistan and Myanmar. “Since we had not received entries from these countries we decided to extend the date by a week. Although Pakistani players may not be able to make it as it is quite late for them to go through visa formalities, we are expecting entries from Australia and Myanmar,” added Balasubramanium.

The last time Bengaluru hosted this event, in 1990, Manoj Kothari had annexed the title.

Chelsea stun Portsmouth

London, Aug. 17: Chelsea gave their new Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari the perfect start on Sunday with a stunning 4-0 victory over Portsmouth in their opening Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.

It took Chelsea just 12 minutes to take the lead on a gloriously sunny day in west London when Joe Cole fired past his England goalkeeping colleague David James after being set up by Michael Ballack.

Nicolas Anelka took advantage of slack Portsmouth defending to head them 2-0 ahead in the 26th minute and Frank Lampard made it 3-0 from the penalty spot just before halftime after Sylvain Distin handled a cross from Cole.

Deco capped an excellent debut when he powered home an 89th minute strike from 25-metres which James could only help into the net.

The FA Cup winners, who had not won at Stamford Bridge for 53 years, came more into the game in the second half but rarely threatened to salvage anything from a match the home side totally dominated.

Six matches were played on Saturday with Arsenal and Liverpool, who are expected to challenge for the title along with United and Chelsea, among the winners. Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium while Liverpool won 1-0 at Sunderland. – Reuters

Results: Sunday: Chelsea 4 (Joe Cole 12, Nicolas Anelka 26, Frank Lampard 45 pen, Deco 89) bt Portsmouth 0; Astonvilla 4 (Carew 46, Agbonlahor 68, 73, 75) bt Manchester City 2 (Elano 63 pen, Corluka 89).

Saturday: Arsenal 1 (Nasri 4) bt West Bromwich 0; Bolton 3 (Steinsson 34, Davies 41, Elmander 45) bt Stoke 1 (Fuller 90); Everton 2 (Arteta 45, Yakubu 64) bt Blackburn 3 (Dunn 22, Santa Cruz 66, Ooijer 90); Hull 2 (Geovanni 22, Folan 81) bt Fulham 1 (Ki-Hyeon 8); Middlesbrough 2 (Wheater 71, Mido 86) bt Tottenham 1 (Huth 90-og); Sunderland 0 Liverpool 1 (Torres 83); West Ham 2 (Ashton 3, 10) Wigan 1 (Zaki 47).

Karthik, Tahir hit centuries

Bengaluru, Aug. 17: Opener C.B Karthik slammed an unbeaten 136 to guide KSCA Colts to 274 for four against Punjab Cricket Association on the first-day of the KSCA Invitational cricket tournament played at the RSI ground here on Sunday.

The left-hander’s 240-ball knock was studded with 13 hits to the fence and one over it. He was well supported by skipper Sudhindra Shinde (83).

Bharath Lumba was the most successful bowler for Punjab, bagging two wickets for 44 runs.

Devraj Patil was at crease with Karthik at the end of day’s play. The match was reduced to 89 overs-a-side due to wet outfield.

In another match, Tahir Abbas scored 139 as Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association was bowled out for 400 against KSCA President’s XI.

Brief scores:

KSCA Colts 275 for 4 in 77 overs (C.B. Karthik 136 batting, Ashwath Aiyappa 35, Sudhindra Shinde 83, Devraj T. Patil 1 batting; Bharath Lumba 2/44) vs Punjab Cricket Association.

Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association 400 in 98.5 overs (Tanmay Srivastava 36, Tahir Abbas 139, Parminder Singh 78, Rahat Elahi 28, Imtiaz Ahmed 28; S. Aravind 4/98, K.P. Appanna 3/59) vs KSCA President’s XI.

TNCA 237 for 8 in 82 overs (K.B. Arun Karthik 26, M. Vijay 34, Abhinav Mukund 34, R. Srinivasan 25, S. Suresh Kumar 59 Batting, K.H. Gopinath 32, C. Suresh 9 batting; Ashwin Yadav 2/48, Ravi Teja 2/43) vs Hyderabad Cricket Association.

Kerala CA 153 in 60.1 overs (Sreesanth 32, Tejas 29, Ishwar Chaudhri 4/42, Timil Patel 2/24) vs Gujarat CA 23 for no loss in 7 overs (Jeesal Karia 14 batting, Nilesh Modi 9 batting).

Indian officials concerned about slow pace of work

Beijing, Aug. 17: Stunned by excellent facilities built in record time by the organisers of Beijing Olympics, sports officials from India lamented that preparations for hosting the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games was faltering. “There is no doubt we are behind schedule right now,” a senior Indian sports official said here.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held in Delhi from October 3-14. “There is adhocism and lethargy,” an official said.

“There is no clear planning and things are moving at snail’s pace,” another official said, expressing concern that Delhi may falter if no urgent decisions are taken to step up construction and related activities for hosting the prestigious event.

Other officials, involved in the preparations for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, said the sheer planning that has gone into the Beijing Olympics has stunned them.

“The sheer magnitude of planning involved in the Olympics is mind-boggling and we would draw inspiration from the best practices followed here,” said an official.

A number of sports officials from India are currently camping here and visiting Beijing sports facilities to get first-hand knowledge of how the organisers of the Olympics managed to ensure world-class facilities in record time.”We are very impressed by what Beijing has done,” one official said.

The Indian officials were also stunned by the ongoing gold sweep by Chinese athletes. “Is it due to some novel training methods, new scientific insight, or simply hard work?” they wonder.

Chinese coaches and athletes insist that there is no secret – just a tough training routine and the determination to win laurels for the motherland.

Even the Chinese sports officials have credited the foreign coaches for their significant contribution to the gold rush. “Foreign coaches are ‘significant elements’ to help athletes improve their performances during the Olympic Games,” a top Chinese sports official said.

“There are 38 foreign coaches from 16 countries in the Chinese delegation, and they worked over 17 sports disciplines,” said Cui Dalin, deputy head of the Chinese delegation.

“Their advanced training methods and new concepts helped the Chinese athletes improve their performances at the Olympics. They have done a lot of good to Chinese sports.”

Guided by French coach Christian Bauer, Chinese Zhong Man won the gold medal in men’s sabre individual final, the country’s second Olympic fencing gold in 24 years.

Chinese men’s swimmer Zhang Lin, who is being trained by Australian Denis Cotterell since last year, made a breakthrough to win a silver at the ongoing Olympics.

The nation’s success at the quadrennial event has also been attributed to the sports schools and the Chinese government’s policy to encourage sports and games at all levels. 

Deccan Chronicle


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: