Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Australia into semifinals of Champions Trophy cricket by beating Pakistan

CENTURION, South Africa — Australia beat Pakistan by two wickets in a last-ball thriller Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the Champions Trophy at the expense of India. Online Sports
Australia was cruising at 140-2 in the 32nd over in pursuit of Pakistan's 205-6 until losing 6-47 with 25 balls left. However, Brett Lee and Nathan Hauritz held firm and scrambled a bye off the last ball to take Australia to a match with England on Friday.
Michael Hussey made 64, while Ricky Ponting (32), Tim Paine (29) and Shane Watson (24) all got starts at the top of the order.
"I had chewed all my fingernails off," Ponting said. "It was tough to score quickly out there because the bounce was inconsistent." Sports News
Hussey, who put on 81 with Ponting, was dismissed in the 41st over with the score on 170 and had to watch as Pakistan's bowling tightened its accuracy at SuperSport Park.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took 2-31 off 10 overs, while Mohammad Asif - returning from injury and a drugs suspension - claimed 2-34 in eight overs.
"The Pakistanis bowled well, and thankfully Brett Lee and Hauritz showed some steel in the end and got us over the line," Hussey said.
All six Pakistan batsmen dismissed reached double figures yet not one made a half-century. Mohammad Yousuf made 45, Kamran Akmal 44 and Misbah-ul-Haq 41, but captain Younis Khan felt the team's total was too low.
"They had a fantastic time with the ball, and got partnerships going when they batted," Younis said. "But suddenly we came back hard and it was a great finish. The pitch was a little soft in the morning, not a bad pitch for cricket."
Lee led the way with the ball for Australia with 1-30 off 10 overs. He was supported by Mitchell Johnson's 2-45 and Shane Watson's 2-32 after Ponting had won the toss and sent Pakistan in to bat.
The promotion of Shahid Afridi up the order to open wasn't successful as he was dismissed in the eighth over for 15 off 18 balls.
The rest of the innings was as laboured as no batsman was allowed to bat at better than a run a ball.
The 53-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Yousuf and Misbah-ul-Haq took nearly 15 overs as neither batsman was able to assert himself.
Yousuf perished in the 47th over as soon as he tried to increase the scoring rate, while Misbah was out in the final over when he stepped on his stumps to a wide delivery from Watson.
Pakistan meets New Zealand in the other semifinal.

Champions League preview

The European credentials of Manchester United and Chelsea will be given a thorough going over on Wednesday night.

Click here to check out the various ways you can watch the best of the Champions League on Sky Sports this season. Remember you can watch games on your PC. Online Sports
Manchester United will be looking to take another positive step towards a third consecutive UEFA Champions League final when they welcome Wolfsburg to Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side successfully negotiated a tricky trip to Turkey in their opening Group B encounter, with a solitary effort from Paul Scholes enough to see off Besiktas. Sports News
Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg were also victorious on Matchday 1, with Brazilian hit-man Grafite stealing the headlines as he bagged a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow.
The German outfit have recovered well in their last two league outings after suffering a recent wobble, which leaves them slightly off the pace in the defence of their title, but United will enter the game as firm favourites after moving to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday courtesy of a seventh straight success in all competitions.
Elsewhere in Group B, CSKA Moscow and Besiktas will get Wednesday's action up and running with an early kick-off on a plastic pitch in Russia.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping his side bounce back from a shock defeat at Wigan, which saw United knock them off top spot in the domestic rankings, when they head to Apoel Nicosia.
The Blues saw their unbeaten start to the season come to an abrupt end at the DW Stadium, as they went down 3-1 to the Latics, and they would have been hoping for an easier ask than a trip to the Cypriot capital in midweek.
Chelsea did overcome Porto 1-0 in their Group D opener, with Nicolas Anelka saving the day at Stamford Bridge, but they were far from impressive against the Portuguese champions.
In contrast, Apoel looked to be in fine fettle as they marked their debut outing at this stage of the competition with a commendable 0-0 draw away at Atletico Madrid.
The Spanish giants have endured a difficult start to the 2009/10 campaign, with pressure already mounting on boss Abel Resino, and they will be desperate to take a positive result from their meeting with Porto at Estadio do Dragao.
The heavyweight contest of the evening will take place in Germany as Bayern Munich prepare to play host to Juventus.
Bayern continue to struggle for consistency, but they are unbeaten at the Allianz Arena this term and will have taken heart from a 3-0 victory at Maccabi Haifa in their first Champions League outing.
Standing in their way, though, will be a Juve side yet to taste defeat in Serie A this season.
The Bianconeri were held 1-1 by Bordeaux a fortnight ago and they will want to get a first win on the board in a fiercely competitive group.
Bordeaux put in a brave showing in Turin that night, and lead the way once again in Ligue 1, and Laurent Blanc's side will fancy their chances of taking maximum points from a home date with Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa.
While Group A remains difficult to call, Group C also boasts three sides harbouring ambitions of progressing to the latter stages of the competition.
AC Milan have taken the crown on seven previous occasions and will expect to be challenging once again in 2010.
A lacklustre start to their Serie A campaign does not bode well, with Leonardo's side currently wallowing in mid-table, but they displayed admirable battling qualities to snatch a 2-1 victory at Marseille in their Champions League opener and will be looking for more of the same against FC Zurich.
Marseille were disappointed to have taken nothing from their clash with Milan and the fixture list does not get any easier for the French giants.
They travel to Real Madrid on Wednesday to take on the 'Galacticos', who have already begun to shine this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo and co eased past Zurich on Matchday 1, while they have also made a 100 per cent start to their Primera Liga campaign - scoring 16 goals in five matches.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vijender Singh makes India proud again, becomes world's No.1 boxer

New Delhi: Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist Vijender Singh has achieved yet another first for Indian boxing by becoming the world's top-ranked pugilist in the middle weight (75kg) category.The 23-year-old Bhiwani boxer, who won India's maiden World Championships medal in Milan earlier this month, has 200 points and is ranked higher than the reigning champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan. Sports News
Atoev, to whom Vijender lost in the World Championship semifinals, is third in the list with 2100 points and Olympic silver medallist Emilio Correa Bayeux (2500) of Cuba occupies the second spot in the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) list updated after the Milan event."I am obviously elated at being ranked the highest in the world. It's a fantastic feeling and would motivate me to do better in future events," Vijender, who broke India's Olympic jinx with his bronze in the Beijing Olympics, told reporters. Online Sports
Among the other Indians, former world youth champion Thokchom Nanao Singh has slipped three places to eighth with 1400 points in the light fly weight (48kg) category.Nanao, a silver medallist in this year's Asian Championships in China, lost in the second round of the World Championships.
Olympian Akhil Kumar, whose World Championships campaign was cut short in the first round itself due to a wrist injury, has gone down a rung to 10th in feather weight (57kg) category with 1050 points.Fellow Olympian Jitender Kumar (54kg) also lost some ground because of his first-round exit in Milan as he dropped a place to 14th with 838 points.Suranjoy Singh was 17th in the fly weight (51kg) category rankings.World Championship quarterfinalist Dinesh Kumar held on to his sixth spot with 1550 points in the light weight (81kg) category.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Philippine death toll rises, as new storms brew

A medical patient trapped during the flooding is evacuated by navy personnel after the floodwater subsides allowing big trucks to enter the area Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 in suburban Cainta, east of Manila, Philippines. Weary victims of a tropical storm that unleashed worst flooding in more than a decades begun cleaning up their damaged homes as rescue workers plucked more dead bodies from muddy floodwaters. (AP Photo/ Pat Roque)
MANILA, Philippines — Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday to bring the death toll from massive flooding in the northern Philippines to 240, while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts.
The homes of nearly 1.9 million people in the capital and surrounding areas were inundated by flooding unleashed when Tropical Storm Ketsana tore through the region over the weekend, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said Tuesday. Nearly 380,000 people have sought shelter in schools, churches and other evacuation centers. Online Sports
Overwhelmed officials have called for international aid, warning they may not have sufficient resources to withstand two new storms forecasters have spotted east of the island nation in the Pacific Ocean. One could hit the northern Philippines later this week and the other early next week, although meteorologists say that could change.
Ketsana, which scythed across the northern Philippines on Saturday, dumped more than a month's worth of rain in just 12 hours, fueling the worst flooding to hit the country in more than 40 years. Sports News
Troops, police and volunteers have already rescued more than 12,359 people, but unconfirmed reports of more deaths abound, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.
He told a news conference that help from foreign governments will ensure that the Philippine government can continue its relief work.
"We are trying our level best to provide basic necessities, but the potential for a more serious situation is there," Teodoro said. "We cannot wait for that to happen."
Authorities announced Tuesday that a dam in northern Bulacan province had to release water for the second time in days in order to prevent a spill and urged villagers downstream to expect rising water levels.
Even the country's communist guerrillas said they would hold off on assaults and help villagers recover from the storm.
The extent of devastation became clearer Monday as TV networks broadcast images of mud-covered communities, cars upended on city streets and reported huge numbers of villagers without drinking water, food and power.
In Manila's suburban Marikina city, a sofa hung from electric wires.
Since the storm struck, the government has declared a "state of calamity" in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces, allowing officials to use emergency funds for relief and rescue.
Resident Jeff Aquino said floodwaters rose to his home's third floor at the height of the storm.
Aquino, his wife, three young children and two nephews spent that night on their roof without food and water, mixing infant formula for his 2-year-old twins with the falling rain.
Rescuers pulled a mud-splattered body of a woman from the swollen Marikina river Monday. About eight hours later, police found three more bodies from the brownish waters.
The United States has donated $100,000 and deployed a military helicopter and five rubber boats manned by about 20 American soldiers from the country's south, where they have been providing counterterrorism training. The United Nations Children's Fund and the World Food Program have also provided food and other aid.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Focus of players quickly shifts

Kenny Perry faded with a 74, but still recorded his first top-10 in 11 playoff events. (Dave Martin/Associated Press)
ATLANTA - While most of the players can exhale now that the physical and mental grind of the four-tournament playoff push is over, emotions will get cranked up again in less than two weeks, when the Presidents Cup begins in San Francisco. Those at the Tour Championship who will represent the United States or International team already are looking forward to it. Online Sports
“It’s a great situation to be in. I like the guys who are on the team, and I’m looking forward to a great week,’’ said Sean O’Hair, who will make his Presidents Cup debut at Harding Park. “I’m playing well, so I’m looking forward to some time off, then playing and having a good time.’’
Fred Couples will captain the US team, with Greg Norman leading the International side. Ernie Els, who will be making his sixth appearance in the Presidents Cup, is accustomed to having Norman as his teammate. Now, he’ll be playing for him. Sports News
“If he gets lucky and gets the right pairings and we get points on the board, he’s a great captain,’’ Els said, laughing, “so it all depends on how we play, really. If we play well, he’ll be a great captain.’’
Some are sending in early requests.
“I want to be [Tiger Woods’s] partner in the Presidents Cup,’’ Kenny Perry said. “I would love to play one match with him somehow if Freddy would let me do that. I’m kind of putting a plug in early, get that in the papers so he can read it.’’
Good luck with that, Kenny.
Drama departmentFor a brief stretch yesterday, Steve Stricker was projected to be the FedEx Cup champion, but two bogeys down the stretch - and two birdies by Woods - pushed Stricker to third in the final points standings. Not bad, considering that it comes with a $2 million bonus. The final-hole drama was definitely on Stricker’s mind.
“It was, in a good way. There was so much riding on the line,’’ Stricker said. “After I made bogey at 16, I kind of figured there went my chances.’’
The third version of the FedEx Cup gave all 30 players an mathematical chance to win the Cup, something Stricker pointed to as a positive.
“There might be some tweaking again, who knows, but I thought it provided a lot of excitement for the fans and the players,’’ Stricker said. “All the players coming in here this week had a legitimate chance at winning the FedEx Cup, more so the guys in the top five, but you know, I think it was a lot closer than it has been over the last two years.
“I gave it a good run, and it was a lot of fun.’’
First impressionsTen of the 30 players had never before competed in the Tour Championship. Of the 10, Steve Marino had the highest finish, shooting a 71 in the final round to tie for seventh at 2 under par. John Senden tied for 10th, while Nick Watney and Angel Cabrera tied for 13th. The others: Y.E. Yang (18th), Jason Dufner (T-19), Dustin Johnson (27th), Marc Leishman and Brian Gay (T-28), and Kevin Na (30th).
Don’t feel bad for Na, though. Last-place money was $120,000, and when you throw in his $195,000 FedEx Cup bonus, he earned $315,000. Dufner, at 11th, had the highest finish of the first-timers in the FedEx Cup.
Bright sidePerry, the third-round leader, probably won’t find much solace in this after a final-round 74 left him tied for fourth, but it’s his first top-10 finish in 11 PGA Tour playoff events . . . Padraig Harrington isn’t winning, but he’s consistently knocking on the door. A tie for fourth here was Harrington’s sixth straight top-10 on Tour, including all four playoff tournaments, the only player to do so . . . Yesterday’s stroke average of 71.07 was the highest of the week . . . Which hole was toughest? That would be No. 5. The 520-yard par 4 gave up the fewest birdies all week (four), and had the highest stroke average at 4.3. Watney made the only birdie there yesterday, holing a 17-foot putt.

Pakistan cricket team’s victory against India : Jubilant youth crowd streets in celebration

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani cricket team’s resounding 54- run victory in the Group A match of the ICC Champions Trophy at Super Sport Park, Centurion, South Africa against arch rival India brimmed the Islamabad streets with jubilation as a large number of people, especially youth came out of their houses to celebrate this great occasion.The match that finished at around 2:30am on Saturday night was an unprecedented day of celebration for the people of Islamabad, as it was the second victory of Pakistan against India in ICC fixtures.Hundreds of youths came on the roads as soon as Saeed Ajmal, the off break spinner, bowled out Indian last batsman Harbhajan Singh. The youngsters, majority of them on motorbikes, thronged the wide roads of Islamabad and gathered at F-6, F-7, F-10, G-8, G-9, Aabpara and Melody markets and other prominent places of the city to celebrate the much-awaited victory. Online ports They were dancing to the drumbeat and chanting slogans “Pakistan Zindabad” (long live Pakistan). A few teenagers were found wheeling as no traffic police were on roads at that time. Youngsters with honking cars, motorbikes and even on cabs remained on the roads and streets till 5am being weekend.Area residents and city managers had installed big TV screens in F-7 and F-10 markaz and at public places in several other parts of the city to watch the match.The jubilation continued on Sunday with its peak in the evening and nighttime at public places that enhanced the joy of Eid for many.Besides, Islamabad, the wave of jubilation was evident throughout Pakistan. Thousands of people poured onto the streets of Lahore and Karachi waving Pakistani flags, flashing lights, lighting crackers, whistling, singing and chanting slogans “Pakistan Zindabad”.“We were desperately waiting for a good news as nowadays we hear only bombings and suicide attacks,” said jubilant Obaid Abbassi, who hosted a dinner for his friends to celebrate Pakistan’s victory.Nadia Mehak, who visiting Super Market with her family to celebrate Pakistan’s victory, said there was no substitute for guts and the faith to win that made Pakistan team hard to beat. “Cheers to Pakistan team, cheers to my Pakistan,” she said gleefully, adding, Pakistan team would perform with the same spirit in other matches and Insha Allah we would win ICC Champions Trophy.Salman Wazir, a student, said the cricket team’s victory had not only brought smile to the faces of people, but it also created a hope and strengthened confidence of Pakistani nation.“The wonderful performance of the cricket team gives us a lesson. And the lesson is that not to lose courage and hope. As our team has managed to steer out of crisis, we too will get rid of these hardships soon”, said Salman pointing to the recent suicide blasts in Peshawar and Bannu.A cricket fan, Ambar Rana described Pakistan team’s triumph as “an outstanding game and a fantastic victory. “We feel redeemed. Instead of anger and disillusionment, there was joy and celebration. Sports News “At times when Raina and Dravid were batting, it seemed that we are no way in a position to win this game but boys kept their confidence and soon after Raina got dismissed LBW, Indian team kept on stumbling,” she said.Another youth said that he was proud of Pakistan team’s victory. For us cricket is like glue that binds us all together. However, he said it looked shameful that blast victim families were mourning the death of their loved ones and the injured were under treatment in hospitals but some people were dancing on roads to celebrate Pakistan’s victory in match against India.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Future of one-day cricket will be decided by the spectators

: After much debate, inevitable given that India and England represent a quarter of the teams participating, the Champions Trophy has thrown itself up for examination. It has been packaged well, is meant to have no uncompetitive matches (though the West Indies will test that premise) and to be fair to them the ICC have put everything behind it. One-day cricket is now in a buyer’s market and that means the product has to be tailored for the consumer. Realising that is progress in itself. Online Sports
Now the viewer and the spectator will sit in judgement and that is how it should always be. They are pretty uncomplicated fellows and they don’t really care much for either heritage or the future. They will look at the offering, if it’s good they will buy it, otherwise they will move on. And this tournament will give us a very good idea of which way they are going.
So will they head towards the Champion’s Trophy or towards the bilateral one-day game which many believe is most under siege. I am not as sure. Long, meandering, bilateral one-dayers are in danger but remember every bilateral game is a home game for somebody. The Champion’s Trophy will have a lot of neutral contests and if at the end we discover that only home games draw the crowds, then the future of single venue tournaments might well be thrown into jeopardy. We might, to be fair, also discover that one-day cricket needs an occasion like the Champion’s Trophy or a World Cup and that, if it happens, will please a lot of people in the ICC. It’s an interesting period and I think we must hold our verdict till the tournament is over. The first indicators are less than ten days away.
The marketing people in the ICC would also be looking at India’s progress very closely. If India travel to the final, the viewership will take care of itself (though, in that case, we will learn little that we do not already know!) and that is why Saturday’s game is even more important beyond the usual India-Pakistan offering. It is imperative therefore that both teams are at full strength and the absence of Yuvraj Singh, now India’s key factor in the middle order, could prove to be telling. Sports news
In an ideal line-up India would have Sehwag at the top and Yuvraj at No 4 to keep the momentum going. Their absence means someone needs to step up and I’m afraid the more you look at the line-up the more it seems like Tendulkar will have to be that person. With Gambhir coming out of injury and uncertain form, India might be a dasher short and it might well be an opportunity for Suresh Raina to step up to take Yuvraj’s place; not just with the bat but with the ball where he seems craftier than most people imagine. He should enjoy playing both roles on this Centurion pitch.
It is the bowling though that India should be more worried about. Ishant Sharma gives the impression of following the rest of the pack into the stagnation zone and that is a worry given that RP Singh seems to struggle to add consistency to his undoubted promise. And it is always a worrying thought when Ashish Nehra is your lead bowler because you never quite know which player answering to his name is likely to turn up. And so, at least in the first two games, India might well look to getting a lot of overs in from their slower bowlers. Raina has had a couple of good games and Dhoni got ten out of Yusuf Pathan in the warm up game.
I hope though that when the men in blue take the field, attention will be focussed on their performance rather on the content of a privately circulated note which is actually far more thought provoking in the segments that are unlikely to have made it past news editors. So now our young sports reporters have to grapple with conjuring stories on whether having sex on tour is good or bad. Their canvas seems to get broader every day! Time to redo the syllabus in media schools!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tonge heroics in vain as nervy Pakistan win

Johannesburg: Pakistan struggled hard to manage a five-wicket win over West Indies in a Group A match of the Champions Trophy at the Wanderers here on Wednesday. online sports
Chasing a paltry target of 134 runs, Pakistan's top order collapsed but Man of the Match Umar Akmal played a composed unbeaten 41 and stand-in skipper Shahid Afridi, leading in place of injured Younis Khan, remained not out on 17 to see his team home safely in 30.3 overs with five wickets in hand.
Young West Indies captain Floyd Reifer's decision to bat proved costly as teenage paceman Mohammad Aamir and Umar Gul took advantage of a lively wicket and grabbed three wickets each to bowl them out for 133 in 34.3 overs. sports news
The depleted West Indies side never recovered from a poor start and had it not been lower-order batsman Nikita Miller's gutsy 51, they wouldn't have crossed the century-mark. Miller struck his maiden half-century and smashed one six and six boundaries in his 57-ball knock.
Darren Sammy (25) and Devon Smith (18) were the other two batsmen to get to double figures on a night of dismal performance.
The 17-year-old Aamir returned with figures of 3-24 off his seven overs in his sixth one-day appearance while fast bowler Gul bagged 3-28 off eight overs. Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal also picked up two for 16.
While chasing, Pakistan faced some serious problems as Gavin Tonge picked up four wickets to leave them struggling at 76 for five.
Pakistan also started on a poor note with both the openers Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir making five runs each before returning to the pavilion. Former skipper Shoaib Malik and comeback man Mohammad Yousuf also got good starts but couldn't convert their identical 26 to a big score.
But Akmal and Afridi held their nerves with their 58-run unbroken partnership for the sixth-wicket and as Pakistan romped without suffering any more damages.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cricket needs its grand occasions

Hard-pressed hosts have been trying to present the Champions Trophy as an eagerly awaited tournament and part of a great tradition. By rights it ought to be an easy sell. After all, the top eight nations are taking part, and almost all of the great players are involved. Moreover, the hosts have an excellent chance of taking the spoils. Although it's a close-run thing and the position changes rapidly, South Africa are the top-ranked 50-over team, and Graeme Smith has at his disposal a wondrously varied collection of players. sports news
Certainly that dreadful old rogue Hendrik Verwoerd would be amazed. For that matter it's an exciting time in South African sport, with the rugby team retaining a first position years after its World Cup triumph, and the soccer World Cup mere months away. It's a far cry from the low expectations that accompanied the country as it embarked upon the long and perilous journey from central command to democracy.
With so many brilliant players appearing in such a short period and with no weak teams invited and no dud matches anticipated, the Champions Trophy ought to be the topic on the tip of every cricketing tongue. After all Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation, and in prime form after his stirring hundred in Colombo (the 44th of his ODI career, 40 of them scored as an opener and 28 compiled away from home), is about to try his luck against Dale Steyn.
Likewise Ricky Ponting is eager to lead his reconstructed side to success. Almost inevitably Australia are the reigning champions, but those were different days, when Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden ran amok.
Nor is it only a matter of watching a few shining knights of the game. The entire Sri Lankan side, sometimes patronised, is attractive. Sri Lanka is supposedly at peace with itself. That cricket remained largely untouched by the conflict is a credit to all concerned. Now Kumar Sangakkara, intelligent, capable and sometimes provocative, presides over a wonderful collection of proven seniors and youngsters. To watch the recent matches against India was to observe the old hands still battling away and to find wholehearted and unfazed youngsters emerging, including Angelo Mathews and Thilina Kandamby, who follows in the footsteps of Arjuna Ranatunga.
Cricket has been extraordinarily lucky that Sri Lanka have emerged as such a powerhouse. Bangladesh ought to send emissaries to study the methods used. The cricketing politics may have been dubious, but the cricketers themselves have provided outstanding leadership. The only bad patch came in the match-fixing period, but Sri Lanka were hardly alone in that. Mercifully, too, the best among them remained intact.
Pakistan are another side bound to catch the eye. Pakistan cricket is a law unto itself. Against most expectations, and with a typically adroit and opportunistic approach, the team won the World Twenty20 in 2009. Although lacking recent exposure, the side has plenty of experience and all sorts of points to prove. None of their rivals have as many heroes and villains in their line-up. Most of the players manage to be both at the same time. Pakistan is not a side for half-measures, nor is it shy of victory. It's a reminder that a representative team is an expression of the national culture. It might not reveal everything about a country's psyche, but the way a sporting team goes about its work offers an insight. It's not the finishing that tells the tale, it's the starting point.
Of course this Champions Trophy has had its setbacks. Although far from blameless, the ICC has been unlucky with its tournaments in recent years. For example, the last two World Cups have been blighted - by a boycott and the death of a coach.
Everyone understands that a World Cup produces a world champion. The winners of the Champions Trophy, what are they? Not world champions, to be sure. And what remains? The only thing to be won is a trophy
Without Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Andrew Flintoff, England's batting looks second-rate. Incomparably worse, West Indies have sent a second-string team, an insult to the host, the game and spectators. It's high time this cricket community was called to account. The ICC ought to have withdrawn their invitation. Australia ought to cancel West Indies' forthcoming tour and ask someone else to fill the gap. The incompetence of the administration and the selfishness and arrogance of the players ought not to be tolerated a moment longer. A great tradition has been betrayed. Nor can past players be exonerated. Most of them spend their time swanning around, milking the system. The current problems began 20 years ago, in the conduct of headstrong heroes. Bad habits took hold, and despite the efforts of a few good men they remain intact. It's a cultural malaise that involves the team and their surrounds. The only way forward is to split up the West Indies and rely on national pride to restore dignity.
Even the second rung of countries have their complications. Uganda has made enormous progress in the last few years, leapfrogging many nations along the way. And then came a heavy blow as half the Under-19 team absconded while taking part in an event in Canada. It's enough to make grown men cry. The ICC's attempt to spread the game deserves not the unimpressive cynicism of the narrow-minded but the praise of the enlightened. In the end cricket endures because it is an extraordinarily good game, and a bond between nations that have so much to fight about and so much in common.
Accordingly a few headaches are to be expected whenever cricket nations get together. If anything, this Champions Trophy has fewer than might have been feared. Despite the bombings and wars, and struggles between first and third worlds, and the ever-changing balance of power as the dollar weakens and BRIC flexes its muscles, the top eight teams have reported for duty, though West Indies is present in name only.
The Champions Trophy is struggling to capture the imagination. Not even the arrival of the great players and the powerful teams has been enough to send a frisson of excitement around the cricketing world. As far as most observers are concerned, it's just another tournament.
And that is the problem. It is just another tournament, one among many. Slowly the Champions Trophy is finding its feet, establishing its identity.
This year's version will be the best to date, not that it has much to beat. It will be fast and furious and will last less than a fortnight. So why the downbeat atmosphere? Partly it is that followers of the game are not convinced about the relevance of the tournament. What does it signify? Everyone understands that a World Cup produces a world champion. Even that is more confusing in cricket than other games because the supposed champions merely have bragging rights in a secondary form of the game. No other sport bestows remotely as much status upon a compressed format. Still, they are champions of some sort. But the winners of the Champions Trophy, what are they? Not world champions, to be sure. And what remains? The only thing to be won is a trophy.
But there is another reason for the lack of feverish anticipation. The period beforehand was not marked by preparation and speculation. Sri Lanka and India were playing 50-over matches in Colombo. Until Sunday night England and Australia were still bemusingly going hammer and tongs in Durham, the local stronghold. Then they all hop onto a plane and play the next gig, the Champions Trophy. Our cricketers resemble a rock band dashing from concert to concert. Accordingly it is difficult to create a sense of occasion. Everyone in South Africa and elsewhere has been talking about the forthcoming soccer World Cup for years. Comparatively, cricket lacks anticipation.
Floyd Reifer takes questions from the media, Potchefstroom, September 17, 2009The ICC ought to have withdrawn West Indies' invitation. Australia ought to cancel their forthcoming tour and ask someone else to fill the gap © Getty Images
Nor is the matter easily resolved. Other sports can limit the number of internationals because the club or provincial competitions can sustain interest. Soccer and rugby are in this happy position. Until the advent of the IPL, cricket was almost dead domestically, in financial terms anyhow. And the IPL is an exception in that it's really an international competition in disguise. Cricket depends on international stars and matches. Nothing else makes money or holds the audience. Accordingly the game comes under pressure to arrange as many internationals as possible. Inevitably the currency is compromised. The same thing has been happening to the US dollar.
The Champions Trophy can flourish. It has a different role than the World Cup, which is used to encourage rising nations and stimulate the successful. Cricket has been lucky that India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have all lifted the Cup. The Champions Trophy is reserved for the elite. Every match is a corker. But it cannot merely be another stop on the train journey. It needs to become a destination. To that end, cricket needs to improve its programming. The old idea of every nation for itself, and more recently every man for himself, is unsustainable, for then the trivial and the telling become confused. Cricket needs to isolate and highlight its grand occasions and reduce the distractions. online sports
Usually the Indians are blamed for everything (a policy once pursued in the Wild West), but England and Australia have been the worst offenders this time round. They have given the Champions Trophy little respect. It's a question of priorities. Cricket has lots of tournaments but lacks the concept of majors. It's high time that changed. Tripling the ranking points for World Cups and Champions Trophy matches might help. After all, it's rare for cricket to get together. All the more reason to celebrate when it does happen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Steel Vault Announces Strategic Partnership with OPEN Sports and FOX Sports

Steel Vault’s Subsidiary is the Exclusive Provider of Identity Security Services for FOX Fantasy Quick Challenge and Fantasy Live
DELRAY BEACH, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Steel Vault Corporation (OTCBB:SVUL) (“Steel Vault” or the “Company”), a premier provider of identity security products and services, announced today that it has formed a strategic marketing partnership with OPEN Sports and FOX Sports to drive subscriber growth for Steel Vault’s services including credit monitoring through the Company’s™ subsidiary. sports
William J. Caragol, Steel Vault’s CEO, commented, “We are pleased to launch this marketing partnership with OPEN Sports, a leader in sports news and fantasy sports. We believe that this partnership will leverage a first-of-its-kind live fantasy platform with FOX Sports’ marketing power to reach a large audience and give them an incentive to become a subscriber to our important identity security services.”
As a benefit to players who participate in FOX Fantasy Quick Challenge and Fantasy Live, will offer a free credit report and score from, which also includes a seven-day free trial to its Safeguard Credit™ monitoring service.
About OPEN Sports Network
OPEN Sports is a producer of next generation social-powered sports experiences combining social media and community tools with traditional sports content and best-of-breed fantasy sports games. Founded in March 2008 by Mike Levy, founder and former CEO of, the Company’s mission is to exploit the highly compelling market opportunity that has been created at the intersection of traditional sports, fantasy sports, and social media. OPEN Sports’ applications and services support a community-driven model that empowers sports fans to shape the platform and corresponding content with a combination of community-centric tools. In addition, the Company is leveraging its extensive experience to develop next-generation fantasy gaming and scoreboard services that incorporate the viral, collaborative aspects of social media with the entertainment and reward of fantasy sports games for prizes. For more information, visit
About Steel Vault Corporation
Steel Vault, formerly known as IFTH Acquisition Corp., is a premier provider of identity security products and services, including credit monitoring, credit reports, and other identity theft protection services. Since 2004, its subsidiary, National Credit, has specialized in providing a variety of credit information to consumers to help protect them from identity theft and fraud. online sports
Statements about Steel Vault’s future expectations, including the ability of the Company’s partnership with FOX Sports to drive subscriber growth for Steel Vault’s services including credit monitoring through the Company’s™ subsidiary, the ability of the partnership to leverage a first-of-its-kind live fantasy platform with FOX Sports’ marketing power to reach a large audience and give them an incentive to become a subscriber to Steel Vault’s identity security services, and all other statements in this press release other than historical facts are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and as that term is defined in the Private Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, and Steel Vault’s actual results could differ materially from expected results. Additional information about these and other factors that could affect the Company’s business is set forth in the Company’s various filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those set forth in the Company’s 10-K filed on December 24, 2008, under the caption “Risk Factors.” The Company undertakes no obligation to update or release any revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this statement or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Renault face Formula 1 fix fate

The future of the Renault Formula 1 team will be decided by the sport's governing body at a hearing on Monday.
The FIA could permanently exclude the team, who will not contest charges that they ordered Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. online sports
However, it is thought more likely that Renault will be issued with a heavy fine or suspended ban.
Piquet has immunity from prosecution and former team-mate Fernando Alonso is unlikely to face punishment.
The FIA agreed not to pursue action against the Brazilian for his role in uncovering the details of the scandal, while the organisation has said it has no reason to suspect Alonso knew anything of the plot apparently agreed between the team's two bosses and Piquet.
However, Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reports that twice world champion Alonso has been sent a late summons to attend the hearing.
Neither a Renault team spokeswoman nor the governing body would confirm who would be present. tennis sports
Alonso, who is widely expected to join Ferrari next year, has already given evidence to investigators who questioned him at last month's Belgian Grand Prix.
Having already pitted in the race, the timing of the safety car - necessary while Piquet's wrecked car was removed from the track - was critical to Alonso's victory in Singapore.
BBC Sport commentator Martin Brundle, writing in the Sunday Times, urged Renault to "go in with their hands up, admitting guilt" having rid themselves of former team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering head Pat Symonds, neither of whom will attend the hearing.
"They must also demonstrate that they will install a new team principal of perceived integrity," added Brundle.
"I foresee a sizeable fine for the FIA coffers and a points penalty that will pain the team into next year in regard to revenue and pit lane position."
Former world rally champion Ari Vatanen, who is battling to succeed Max Mosley as the next FIA president, told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme Renault should not be thrown out of the sport.
Vatanen believes there are too many vested interests in the world council and that punishing Renault by expulsion would be "disproportionate."
He said: "Renault has got more or less their punishment in terms of image and having lost their top brass and we have to see the bigger context here.
"Don't just focus on this incident and look at what we can do about the FIA and about the sport.
"If Renault is thrown out it wouldn't have been a result of an independent justice. That's what we must get right - an absolutely independent justice otherwise people will always have a question. What was behind it?"
Vatanen added that Piquet ought to take the blame for the crash itself, and should not have been allowed to "escape that responsibility" with the immunity handed to him by the governing body.
If the FIA chooses to simply fine Renault, it will have difficulty in deciding the size of the sanction.
In 2007, a record $100m (then £49.2m) fine was handed out to McLaren for their illegal possession of Ferrari documents.
But the engineering of a crash in Singapore, endangering the safety of others to manipulate the outcome of a race, marks an entirely different form of infringement.
"The McLaren spying scandal two years ago was extremely serious but mechanics have always discussed technical data among themselves," said retired triple champion Niki Lauda last week.
"This, though, is new. The biggest damage ever. Now the FIA must punish Renault heavily to restore credibility in the sport."
The FIA's decision will be reached in the same week that Formula 1 returns to Singapore for this season's race, with first practice due to begin at 1100 BST on Friday, 25 September.

Friday, September 18, 2009

NFC East Cheerleaders

New England Patriots
NFL Cheerleaders: Week 1
Revenge at the forefront of Week 3 storylines
The 10 storylines to watch this Saturday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Paine-ful loss for England

Australia move 6-0 up, within one victory of NatWest Series whitewash Online sports
England's dismal NatWest Series continued as another batting collapse saw them slump to their sixth consecutive one-day defeat against Australia in Nottingham on Thursday.
Tim Paine's maiden century powered Australia to 296-8 on another excellent Trent Bridge pitch.
The hosts' reply was woeful - bowled out for 185 all out in 41 overs, number eight Tim Bresnan's unbeaten 31 the top score on a miserable card as Australia completed a 111-run victory.
Skipper Andrew Strauss was unfortunate to be given out from the second ball of the innings, but thereafter it was an all-too familiar meltdown from a batting line-up that has now failed five times out of six in the series.
Strauss' opposite number Ricky Ponting rolled back the years with two direct hits to run out Ravi Bopara and Matt Prior as England slumped from 45-1 to 60-4.
Eoin Morgan and Owais Shah briefly resisted with a 40-run stand for the fifth wicket but fell in quick succession and the tail - Bresnan's efforts apart - folded soon enough.
Australia have the chance to complete a perfect NatWest Series campaign in Durham on Sunday.
England's run chase was almost immediately on the skids when Strauss was incorrectly adjudged caught behind for a duck.
The Middlesex left-hander fended inside a searing short ball from Brett Lee and, after a sustained appeal, umpire Asad Rauf lifted his finger. Online sports
Strauss was clearly unhappy at getting his second bad decision in as many games from the Pakistan official - and his mood would not have been improved by his team's subsequent struggles.
Joe Denly had again got off to a start, reaching 25 from 43 balls, before he miscued a drive off James Hopes to Lee at mid-off.
England's hopes then evaporated after two sublime pieces of fielding from Ponting.
The Tasmanian's turn and throw from cover caught Prior (6) backing up too far and five balls later another direct hit sent Bopara packing for 25.
Shah was again involved, although rather than the hesitation that has plagued his running previously this time his total commitment to the run sold Bopara into a single that was never on.
Shah and Morgan both produced some eye-catching strokes, but as so often with England's middle-order in this series they both got out as they started to look dangerous.
Both fell for 23 before Dimitri Mascarenhas (11) was unluckily bowled off his thigh pad by Hopes (3-32).
Ponting could even have had a third run out, but missed the stumps with Bresnan well short of his ground, although it mattered little as England's tail meekly surrendered with nine overs unused.
Paine century
Earlier, Paine's 111 had provided the mainstay of Australia's total after they had opted to bat first.
James Anderson, returning to lead England's attack after being rested for the previous two defeats, struck twice with the new ball.
Anderson accounted for Shane Watson (4), chopping a wide delivery onto his stumps, and Ponting (6), pulling straight to fine-leg, as Australia were pegged back at 40-2 after nine overs.
Strauss immediately enforced the bowling powerplay from the start of the 11th over. Mascarenhas almost succeeded in removing Michael Hussey for a duck, but Prior could not reach a bat-pad chance, while Paine was lucky to see a nick off Bresnan just evade the wicketkeeper's dive.
But Australia's third-wicket pair blossomed thereafter, compiling a 163-run stand in 30.2 overs
Paine, making just his seventh appearance at this level, experienced a few anxious moments in the 90s but eventually brought up a 130-ball hundred with a single down the ground off Graeme Swann.
Hussey had already started to raise the tempo at the other end, carving Ryan Sidebottom (1-65) for six over midwicket on his way to a 56-ball half-century.
The left-hander picked up a second six when he went aerial off Mascarenhas before both batsmen fell in quick succession.
Hussey holed out off the bowling of Swann (1-48), before a smart Prior catch gave Mascarenhas (1-49) the wicket of Paine, who hit 14 fours and a six during his 148-ball stay.
Anderson bowled Callum Ferguson for six with the first ball of the batting powerplay in the 44th over, leaving Hopes (38) and Cameron White (35) to add late impetus with a stand of 53 from 28 deliveries.
Both men were caught mis-hitting full tosses, while Anderson - who finished with figures of 4-55 - ran out Lee for a duck in the frantic closing stages.

Opinion: the worst act of cheating in the history of sport

It is the worst single piece of cheating in the history of sport. We must accept that Renault, in refusing to defend its Formula One motor racing team against the allegation that one of its drivers was told to crash, is admitting that the allegations are indeed true.
That is to say that Nelson Piquet Jr, son of the eponymous three-times world champion, a young man desperate to make his mark on the sport and yet struggling to keep up with its demands, was told to have an “accident” at the Singapore Grand Prix last September.
As a result of his crash, Piquet’s team-mate, Fernando Alonso, was able to win a race he would otherwise have not, taking advantage of the safety procedures that are laid down in Formula One. Piquet was sacked by his team in July for his failure to bring in the results they wanted and turned whistleblower. online sports
After the usual bluster and cover-up, Renault — the company, not the Formula One team — has made its move. It will offer no defence to the charges and has parted company with the team principal, Flavio Briatore, and his No 2, Pat Symonds.

That is what happens when leading commercial concerns get mixed up in sport: their ultimate goal is profit, not sporting success. They are in it for image. They want to be associated with glamour and with success, while the faintest hint of sordidness and cheating is anathema.
This is no run-of-the-mill piece of skulduggery. The Renault team’s crime was not an act of cheating as mere fraudulence. Rather, it was cheating as a potentially lethal act; as potential murder, if you like. This is not melodramatic. Deaths in motor racing still happen. They are not a relic of the wizard-prang days. Deaths come from crashes, and no crash can be controlled.
There have been two horrifying incidents this year alone. In a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch, Henry Surtees, son of the former world champion, John, was killed.
He was struck by a wheel that escaped from another car that had crashed. In Formula One less than two months ago, Felipe Massa’s skull was fractured by a spring that flew from a car that was ahead of him during qualification for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Initially, there were fears for Massa’s life. Motor racing remains a very dangerous sport.
It is supposed to be. Huge advances in safety measures have been made, but speed is by definition dangerous. Motor racing is dangerous for drivers, for pit-crews, for marshals and even on occasions for spectators. It follows, then, that to play fast and loose in this sport is breathtakingly irresponsible.
The first person at risk was Piquet, obviously. He was 23, eaten up with ambition, out of his depth, desperate to please. It is all very well to say that he should have refused and got sacked: would you? After him, every other driver in the race was put at risk by the decision to crash on purpose. And after that, the lives of marshals and spectators were wilfully risked — and for what?
A few points in a table. Money. Sporting prestige. Fame. Glory. It is this willingness to take risks with the lives of so many people, including those of bystanders, that separates this event of cheating from the many others that have occurred with such regularity throughout the chequered history of sport. This single incident is clearly different from long-term institutionalised cheating, of which the East German drugs programme is the most notorious.
The most famous single-event cheat in sporting history is Ben Johnson, but what did he do? He took drugs to win the Olympic 100 metres final in 1988. His coach, Charlie Francis, must take at least equal responsibility. But it was only Johnson’s life and health that were at risk, not those of his fellow competitors and certainly not of the officials and spectators at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul. Other sports
In recent weeks we have had the so-called “Bloodgate” scandal in rugby union. By comparison with the Renault affair, this is just farce: a comic episode in which fake blood was used in an attempt to gain a victory by fraudulent means.
In football, the cheating issue that excites people is the faking of fouls: diving, simulation, whatever. In the most recent high-profile case, Eduardo da Silva, the Arsenal forward, was banned for simulation and then got off on appeal. Even had he been guilty, this would have been no more than a routine example of deception. No one from Celtic was in danger of dying.
English football’s favourite example of cheating is Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal at the World Cup of 1986 that helped to eliminate England in the quarter-finals. This also had no lethal consequences; it was just a piece of urchin malice.
Some examples of cheating, or alleged cheating, are more violent. In the Lions’ rugby union tour to New Zealand in 2005, their captain, Brian O’Driscoll, was driven into the ground by a spear-tackle by two All Blacks in the first international, a potentially crippling manoeuvre. The rugby authorities never charged Tana Umaga, the New Zealand captain, with wrongdoing; others have suggested that the tackle was recklessly dangerous and premeditated, as well as illegal.
But “Crashgate” is the worst. This example of cheating passes all its single-event predecessors. The potentially lethal consequences of this act were beyond anyone’s control.
What we must now ask is whether this is an isolated example of a total loss of perspective, or whether it is a straw that shows which way the winds of sport are blowing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It’s Fight Night at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees said last week that they would like to host championship boxing at the new Yankee Stadium. They got a preview in the eighth inning Tuesday night.
Mayhem broke out near the Yankees’ dugout, jolting an otherwise forgettable 10-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. It left Yankees Manager Joe Girardi with a bloody ear and a swollen eye, and Blue Jays reliever Jesse Carlson with a purple welt on his forehead. Online sports
Carlson had thrown behind Jorge Posada, who later elbowed him while crossing the plate, an action the plate umpire Jim Joyce called a cheap shot. Posada said that he hoped to avoid a suspension, but that he was not proud of what happened.
“It’s a tough example,” he said. “I don’t want my kids to see that. Somebody could have gotten hurt. I’m glad that nobody did.”
With the playoffs three weeks away, it was an especially dangerous time for a brawl. Girardi said he questioned his team’s judgment in a meeting after the game.
“We’ve already had a discussion,” Girardi said. “I told them: ‘There is a lot at stake here, and we can’t afford to get anyone hurt or lose anyone or get people suspended. We can’t do that.’ But there’s a lot of passion in this game.”
The Blue Jays pounded four homers off Sergio Mitre, including one by Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth inning. Mitre hit Encarnacion with a pitch two innings later, and in the eighth, Mark Melancon plunked Aaron Hill in the back.
Joyce said he did not believe either pitch was thrown with intent. But Melancon also unnerved the Red Sox in August when he hit Dustin Pedroia, and the Blue Jays clearly took offense to his fastball to Hill.
“When you’ve got two outs and one of the best hitters on your team’s up, and he gets drilled square in the back, it doesn’t look good,” Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas said. “I’m not saying they did it on purpose, if there was any intent. But obviously, you see that happen and it kind of makes you wonder.”
Carlson communicated that message to Posada when he came to bat in the eighth, unleashing a pitch behind his back that took one hop and bounced to the backstop. Posada yelled at Carlson and took a step or two in his direction.
The benches cleared and the bullpens emptied, but nothing came of it besides a warning from Joyce. Posada walked, and when he came around to score, he elbowed Carlson as Carlson stood off to the side of the plate, seemingly backing up the play.
“As he ran past Carlson, he gave him a little shove with his elbow,” Joyce said. “It was very unsportsmanlike. The pitcher wasn’t looking for anything like that and he ran past him, didn’t say anything and just gave him a shove with his elbow. It was very unsportsmanlike. It was cheap shot.”
Posada was immediately ejected. Carlson cursed at Posada and Barajas lunged after him. Johnny Damon clawed into the fray — to protect Posada, he said — and Carlson swatted with his hand as Girardi dived in.
Instantly, some of the Yankees’ most valuable arms were jostling around, with Joba Chamberlain and C. C. Sabathia joining the rumble. The hulking Shelley Duncan played the enforcer, plowing Barajas to the turf. The umpire Derryl Cousins bruised a knee when a fan struck him with a soda bottle.
Girardi said he did not know how he was bloodied and was not angry with the Blue Jays. Like Barajas, Girardi said he was trying to restore order, not incite violence.
“My thought is just don’t let it escalate,” Girardi said. “That’s always my main objective when I go out there. I’ve never hit anyone in my life, in a team thing like that. And you just hope that no one gets hurt and you hope that you can stop it. But when there’s people running from everywhere, sometimes it’s hard.”
Joyce said the umpires would review video of the brawl. Bob Watson of the commissioner’s office typically does so, too, and decides on discipline. It seems likely Posada will face a punishment, considering Joyce’s opinion, though Posada said he did not start anything with Carlson.
“He was right there on the line to go to the dugout, but I want to leave it at that,” Posada said. “It’s something that shouldn’t happen. We got carried away.” Online sports
It was the first major brawl at the new stadium, and most of the crowd of 45,847 missed it. There seemed to be little incentive to stay after the Blue Jays clobbered Mitre for seven runs in five-plus innings, helping Roy Halladay improve to 15-9.
Overmatched against Halladay once this month, the Yankees managed 11 hits this time and stretched his pitch count to 112 over six innings. Every batter in the order had a hit against him.
That kind of deep lineup will be important against similar elite pitchers in October, especially if the Yankees have to slug to win. Their rotation became a bit shakier Tuesday with the news that Andy Pettitte, the stalwart left-hander, has a tired shoulder and will miss his next start.
Mitre, it seems clear, is not the answer. He was hit hard by Toronto for the second start in a row, allowing seven runs and eight hits. On Sept. 6 at Rogers Centre, he was pounded for 9 earned runs and 11 hits in four and a third innings. He has a 7.63 earned run average, third highest in the majors this season among pitchers with at least 45 innings.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Clijsters seals dream US Open win

Clijsters is the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since 1980
US OPENVenue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 31 August - 14 SeptemberBBC coverage: Live text commentaries on the website from 1600 BST each day, regular updates on 5 live, full commentary on 5 live sports extra in week two, both finals on 5 live. Live on Sky Sports and Eurosport.

Page last updated at 03:02 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 04:02 UKE-mail this to a friend Printable versionClijsters seals dream US Open win online sports
US OPENVenue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 31 August - 14 SeptemberBBC coverage: Live text commentaries on the website from 1600 BST each day, regular updates on 5 live, full commentary on 5 live sports extra in week two, both finals on 5 live. Live on Sky Sports and Eurosport.Kim Clijsters and daughter JadaClijsters is the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since 1980
By Piers Newbery
Kim Clijsters completed her incredible return to Grand Slam tennis with a 7-5 6-3 win over Dane Caroline Wozniacki to claim her second US Open title.
The Belgian, 26, was a wildcard into her first Grand Slam tournament since 2007 after coming out of a two-and-a-half year retirement in August.
In that time she gave birth to a daughter, and so becomes the first mother since 1980 to win a Grand Slam.
She is also the first woman to win a major as a wildcard.
"This has been so exciting for me," said Clijsters. "This was not really our plan.
"I just wanted to start three tournaments just to get back into the rhythm of playing tennis and get used to the surroundings. So I have to thank the USTA for giving me the wild card to come back here." Online sports
Clijsters was playing only her 14th match and third tournament since ending her 27-month retirement. It's been so exciting for me, I just wanted to get back to playing tennis. The support I've received has been crazy
Kim Clijsters
As players need to have competed in three tournaments to gain a world ranking, the new US Open champion is without a ranking until Monday when she is expected to arrive inside the world's top 20.
And the fairytale nature of her victory was compounded when her 18-month old daughter, Jada, was brought down to the court to see her mother lift the trophy.
Not since Evonne Goolagong Cawley beat Chris Evert to win Wimbledon in 1980 has a mother won one of the sport's four major titles.
The match itself was an entertaining contest despite windy conditions that led to more errors than either player would have expected.
Clijsters' story had overshadowed her opponent, especially as the Belgian had beaten American hopes Venus and Serena Williams on her way to the final, but it was also a landmark day for Wozniacki.
The teenager, seeded ninth, was playing in her first Grand Slam final, having never previously been past the fourth round, and hoped to become Denmark's first major winner. 606: DEBATEYour thoughts on Clijsters' victory
And after dropping her first service game it was the Dane who had the edge in the first set, twice moving a break clear as her measured retrieving game proved more effective in the wind.
Clijsters struggled to control her attacking instincts, making regular errors, and looked in trouble when she slipped 5-4 down, throwing a ball away in disgust as she did so.
But the 2005 champion, playing at Flushing Meadows this year for the first time since that triumph, managed to claw back the deficit and broke to love in game 12 to win the opening set.
That seemed to calm any nerves in a player who had lost four of her five previous Grand Slam finals, and Clijsters got the decisive break with a brilliant returning game to lead 4-2 in the second set.
The Belgian had suffered from nerves in big moments during the early part of her career but this time around she remained steady, battling back from 0-30 down in both her remaining service games before taking the win with a smash at the net.
A tearful Clijsters sank to her knees in celebration before heading into the stands moments later to celebrate with family and friends.
"I don't have words for how I'm feeling - I'm just glad I got to come back to defend my title from 2005!" she said afterwards.
"It's been so exciting for me, I just wanted to get back to playing tennis. The support I've received has been crazy.
"Even from the first round, how warmly everyone welcomed and embraced me. It helped me keep fighting and stay focused."
And she added: "We tried to plan Jada's nap time a little bit later today so she could be here. It's the greatest joy in the world.
"I can't wait to spend the next few weeks with her."
Wozniacki said: "She's such a great girl and I'm so excited that she came back.
"Unfortunately she beat me today but she played a great match and deserved this trophy."

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello gear up for race to finish

This is it for Jenson Button — if he is going to be Formula One world champion in his tenth season on the grand-prix circuit, he is going to have to beat Rubens Barrichello, the oldest man on the grid, who was written off as a has-been only a few months ago. Online sports
After a strong performance by both drivers to score a Brawn GP one-two in yesterday’s Italian Grand Prix, during which the title challenge of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull drivers, ebbed away and there was a big last-lap crash by Lewis Hamilton, we are left with what promises to be a fascinating head-to-head.
In Brazil, Barrichello, 37, has been mocked as a Formula One “tortoise” and a man destined to be a No 2 after years supporting Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, while Button has been dismissed in England as a lightweight and a playboy without the grit to make it down the stretch.
Now is the moment of reckoning, as they go into the last four races with Button still ahead, albeit by only 14 points.
The man who won six of the first seven races this year, but has since suffered a slump in his form, was clearly relieved to be back on the podium, even if he was outdriven for the fifth time in six outings by Barrichello. And he tried a joke at the expense of the man who could yet deny him his dream. “I don’t know,” he said, sitting next to Barrichello minutes after coming off the podium. “I’ve put on a brave face lately, but I absolutely hate this guy and he doesn’t know his a*** from his elbow when it comes to racing cars.”
The Brazilian whose supremacy over Button was once again built in qualifying on Saturday, when he was quicker despite carrying a slightly heavier fuel load, underlined that he believes he still remains a tough competitor and one hardened by experience. Online sports
Reflecting on his days at Ferrari with Schumacher, he remarked: “Michael might have more skill than I had, but if you threw both of us into a jail with a tiger I might get out alive — I’m not sure about him.”
So are they going to end up at each other’s throats, hiding technical information from each other and slagging each other off in the press? Is it going to be another hate-fest in the manner of the bitter battle between Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007? Both men seemed confident this would not happen in a team led by the unflappable Ross Brawn and committed to open competition between their drivers.
Button said: “We’ve got a great relationship and we’ve been team-mates for years. We’ll work together; we’ve had to pull our car back to the front and we’ll see how it goes from here.”
Barrichello added: “If it is between ourselves, there is an old saying that goes: ‘You only win in Formula One if you are tough.’ We are both nice guys but the best thing in life is respect.”
While the Brawn drivers sized each other up, with Button looking slightly less at ease with life than Barrichello, over at McLaren, Hamilton was licking his wounds after driving the wheels off his car all afternoon before the ranks of the Ferrari faithful, only to overcook it at the end.
Having started from pole, his two-stop strategy was no match for the Brawns and he was trying to catch Button when he struck a kerb and piled his car into the wall. Having looked certain to finish third, he ended up twelfth and, not for the first time in his Formula One career, Hamilton’s philosophy of “keep pushing” at all costs had sent him over the edge.
“Every lap I was pushing like a qualifying lap, so it’s to be expected,” he said. “We didn’t have the pace and I was pushing as hard as I could. I can only say, ‘I’m sorry’ to the team.
“They did a great job and we weren’t quick enough this weekend. But I did all I could to catch the Brawns and to win it for the team. I apologise to all my fans.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

India's No. 1 hopes hit by Gambhir injury

Home » NewsIndia's No. 1 hopes hit by Gambhir injury
Press Trust Of India
Posted on Sep 10, 2009 at 23:08 Updated Sep 10, 2009 at 23:19 Comment 0 CommentsEmail Email Print PrintTags: india, tri-series, ms dhoni
* India begin season with comfortable win * ICC to try out Tendulkar's idea to save ODIs * I was confident of a comeback: Nehra * I may retire if I don't fire in Champ Trophy: Afridi * Stats: India trail Lanka in day-night games
Read More »
Colombo: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Thursday conceded the team will miss Gautam Gambhir and revealed Dinesh Karthik will don the opener's role in the ongoing Compaq Cup cricket tri-series here.
Gambhir will return home without playing a single match owing to a groin injury, which would mean India would miss both their regular openers since Virender Sehwag is also out of action following a shoulder surgery.
In such a scenario, Dhoni said Karthik would open the innings along with Sachin Tendulkar.Also read:
* Karthik likely to play as India begin quest * India to play CT warm-up tie against Kiwis * India eye clean sweep to top ODI rankings * In pics: India raring to get back onto field
"Dinesh Karthik will open tomorrow because he is doing well in the net sessions also because and we do not have a replacement right now," Dhoni said on the eve of India's tournament opener.
"Dinesh has done that job in the West Indies and has done well for us in Test series also. Definitely he will open tomorrow," he said.
"Best opener Sachin Tendulkar is also there," he added.
Dhoni said Gambhir picked up the injury during the BCCI Corporate Trophy but nothing could be done about that.
"I think it was during the corporate tournament (that he picked up the injury), if I am not wrong. But I think in the batting session it got aggravated," Dhoni said.
"So that is a big blow of course as he has really done well for us in the past one-and-half years", he said.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nadal & Gonzalez delayed by rain

World number three Rafael Nadal took the first set against 11th seed Fernando Gonzalez before rain stopped play in their US Open quarter-final. online sports
Third seed Nadal saved two set points and had treatment for an abdominal injury, but still led 7-6 (7-4) 6-6 (3-2) when rain hit the night session.
It was the second interruption, after the players had been forced off for 75 minutes early in the second set.
Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro awaits the winner in the semi-finals.
Nadal was four points from taking a two-set lead when play ended for the day but Gonzalez will remain hopeful after pushing the Spaniard hard.
Gonzalez earned two set points in the 10th game of the first set but missed a good chance on a second-serve return, and fell behind early in the ensuing tie-break.
I cannot start the match like today
Del Potro on his semi-final
Nadal took it but then immediately called for the trainer and showed signs of discomfort during the three-minute medical timeout.
His play remained of the highest quality though and Gonzalez found himself staring down the barrel at 15-40 in game 10 of the second set, but the Chilean came up with two huge serves and managed to force a second tie-break. Online sports
That was going with serve when bad weather intervened for the second time at 10.20pm local time as Gonzalez prepared to serve trailing 3-2, although play was not officially called off until past midnight.
The eventual winner of this match will now to have to play for four successive days if they are to win the title.
In the earlier match, sixth seed Del Potro came back from a set and a break down to beat Croatia's Marin Cilic and reach the semi-finals.
Cilic, conqueror of Andy Murray in round four, made a fine start to his first Grand Slam quarter-final, but Del Potro broke in game six of the second set and never looked back, coming through 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-1.
Del Potro will go into his first US Open semi-final in buoyant mood after finishing so strongly against fellow 20-year-old Cilic, but knowing he needs a faster start.
"I cannot start the match like today," Del Potro said afterwards. "I was thinking about other things, and the weather was bad. But it was bad for both players.
"I just need to be in focus in the beginning of the match until the last point and play my game."
He added: "My dream is win this tournament. I'm so close to doing it, but now I am focusing on the semis."
Clic, the 16th seed, got going in sensational fashion, breaking Del Potro in game five and, after serving out the first set, again at the start of the second.
But Del Potro, who initially seemed ill-at-ease with the cold conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium, hit back to level at 3-3 and dominated from there on in.
Cilic completely lost his range as Del Potro broke at 4-3 before the Argentine served out the second set and then wrapped up the third in 36 minutes.
The fourth set was even more one-sided until Cilic offered late resistance with a break at 0-5 - but Del Potro responded immediately to seal his triumph in two hours and 32 minutes.
"The beginning of the match I was playing really good and moving him around a lot," said Cilic, "and I found after the first set that it got a lot cooler and the court was a little bit hard to play on.
"The ball wasn't going through the court as much as it was in the beginning, and then he was like all the time on top of me and not letting me find any other solution to get back."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

England booked a place at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa with a comprehensive 5-1 revenge mission over qualification rivals Croatia at Wemb

The build-up to the game had been as much about avenging the infamous defeat to Slaven Bilic's side on home soil which shattered hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 as it had been about securing a spot in South Africa next summer.
With that in mind, England started like a team intent on revenge and their visitors could not cope with the pace and purpose as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard scored two goals apiece, while Eduardo replied before Wayne Rooney hit a fifth.
The Three Lions came roaring out of the traps and in the eighth minute Josip Simunic hopelessly clobbered Aaron Lennon, starting in place of Shaun Wright-Phillips, inside the penalty area and Lampard made no mistake from the spot.
Gerrard then doubled Fabio Capello's side's lead 10 minutes later when the Liverpool captain meet an inch-perfect cross from the excellent Lennon to give Croatia goalkeeper Vedran Runje no chance.
Lampard added a third in the 59th minute when nodding in a Glen Johnson cross and Gerrard also grabbed a brace when getting his head to a looping pass from Rooney in the 66th minute.
Eduardo replied for Croatia in the 73rd minute after a bit of a scramble, but Rooney restored England's four-goal cushion when grabbing a simple goal in the wake of a mistake from Runje with 13 minutes remaining.
Capello, the master tactician, selected and was rewarded with a blistering man-of-the-match performance from fleet-footed Tottenham star Lennon, who created two goals, plus a chance for Emile Heskey and one he wasted himself.
And that was before half-time. To say Lennon ran Croatia ragged in front of the world's fastest man would be a supreme understatement.
Even Usain Bolt must have been impressed at Lennon's electric turn of pace. If he had still been careering round Wembley in front of England's delirious fans when his team-mates had disappeared for their break, it would have been no surprise.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oudin the star in an Open full of upsets

New York: At any Grand Slam where Melanie Oudin wasn't becoming a star, any of these other women would make a fine story.

Their names are Caroline Wozniacki, Kateryna Bondarenko and Yanina Wickmayer.

Like Oudin, they won matches Monday to make it to their first Grand Slam quarterfinals. Like Oudin, they are two wins away from the final and a possible meeting with Serena Williams for the US Open title.

Nice stories, indeed, at a tournament that has been turned upside down.

"Nice for a change that somebody's coming up we haven't heard about much before," said none other than men's No 1 Roger Federer, who blew out No 14 Tommy Robredo to win his 38th straight match at Flushing Meadows.

With a little help from McEnroe, Djokovic charms New York

For the record, nobody asked Oudin what she thought about Federer on this day.

The 70th-ranked player in the world, sharing a room with her mom at a hotel in Manhattan, put together another come-from-behind upset in Queens, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 over 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.

Her next opponent is No 9 Wozniacki, a 19-year-old from Denmark with more wins on tour than anyone this year, and none more important than Monday's. She's the only seeded player remaining on a side of the draw that has gone completely haywire.

A nice story, yes?

A lot of good that will do her come Wednesday evening against Oudin.

"Hopefully," Wozniacki said, "someone from the crowd will cheer for me."

On Monday in the fourth round, most of the cheers belonged, of course, to Oudin.

Against Petrova, she staved off two game points that would have put her behind 5-3 in the second. She improved her record to 6-1 at this summer's Grand Slams - Wimbledon and the US Open - when she has lost the first set.

Clijsters' comeback is talk of the town at US Open

At Flushing Meadows, she has beaten No 4 Elena Dementieva, No 29 Maria Sharapova and now, Petrova, all in come-from-behind fashion.

"You don't know if she's winning or losing," said her father, John. "She doesn't seem nervous out there - and I don't know where that came from."

Wozniacki's 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) win over No 6 Svetlana Kutsenova in a later match eliminated the only remaining player on that side of the draw with a Grand Slam tournament title to her credit.

It means all four of these quarterfinalists have every right to believe they could make it to the finals.

Only one, though, has that word - "Believe" - stamped there on her shoes.

"Right now, I think she'll play Serena in the finals," said Oudin's twin sister, Katherine, who was sobbing in the stands when it was over. "We're not going anywhere."

Nor, it seems, is Federer, whose 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Robredo was as much of a breeze as anyone can expect in the fourth round.

He is seeking to become the first player to win six straight titles at this American major since Bill Tilden, back in the 1920s.

One more win and he'll extend another impressive streak, pushing it to 22 straight semifinal appearances in Grand Slams.

"I guess when it snaps is when it's a pity," Federer said. "As long as it's going, you go with it. It's not something I aim for. I'm aiming for almost bigger, to be quite honest."

His next match is against No 12 Robin Soderling, who advanced when No 8 Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury at the start of the fourth set. Federer beat Soderling in the French Open final earlier this year to complete his career Grand Slam.

Others advancing to the quarterfinals were No 4 Novak Djokovic and No 10 Fernando Verdasco, who knocked American John Isner out and ensured there would be no American in the US Open men's quarterfinals for the first time ever.

Full Coverage: US Open 2009

"Yeah, I knew that," Isner said. "I didn't really think too much about it."

Facing the winner of the Oudin-Wozniacki quarterfinal will be either Bondarenko, who also has a sister on tour, or Wickmayer, who advanced by beating Petra Kvitova - the player who earlier knocked out No. 1 Dinara Safina.

It's a meeting of No 52 vs No 50, the kind of match you'd expect to see in the second round in Madrid, not the final eight in Flushing.

Before this week, Bondarenko had never made it past the third round in a major, Wickmayer never past the second.

"I think if you've never played quarterfinals - if your furthest in a Grand Slam is second round - I don't think you can expect anything," Wickmayer said.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Miami holds off Florida State in ACC thriller

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jacory Harris stood motionless on the Miami sideline with five seconds remaining, silently pleading for one more stop.He had done his part.And after one last review, so did Miami's defense.
Cooper celebrates after his go-ahead touchdown in the fourth.
Ailing arm and all, Harris threw for 386 yards — including a 40-yard pass over double coverage to Travis Benjamin that set up Graig Cooper's 3-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left — and led the Hurricanes past No. 18 Florida State 38-34 in a wild, back-and-forth game on Monday night."I was just thinking my team fought through this so long and so hard. All the preparation and it came down to this," Harris said of watching the final series from the sideline. "Our defense, I know they was going to pull through at the end."
It went down to the very last play, a pass that Florida State's Jarmon Fortson nearly scooped off the garnet-colored grass in the end zone as time expired. Fortson argued to no avail, replay officials confirmed that he didn't have the ball, and Miami (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) flooded the field that bears Bobby Bowden's name in celebration."Whew!" was the first sound Miami coach Randy Shannon made as he left the joyous locker room.Really, no other words were necessary. And Miami did it to Florida State (0-1, 0-1) again, winning for the fourth time in its last five trips to Florida's capital city and dealing Bowden another arduous defeat against the team that's vexed him more than any other."It was a great game, though," Bowden said. "I guess it sounds funny to hear a losing coach say that."Harris completed 21 of 34 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions. He got hurt on the second of those turnovers; Harris was drilled by blitzing cornerback Greg Reid and his throw on that play resulted in nothing more than a pop fly that Markus White ran back 31 yards for a 31-24 Florida State lead with 11:45 remaining.Harris walked to the sideline, holding his right arm tightly to his chest.He was fine. Better than fine, actually."It was just a bad funny bone incident," Harris said. "My whole arm went numb. I had to fight through. I had to help this team win."He did.Harris connected with Cooper for a 24-yard score to tie the game at 31, and after Florida State took the lead again on Dustin Hopkins' 45-yard field goal with 4:11 left, the 'Canes went back to work. They went 59 yards in six plays, Harris' perfect lob to Benjamin accounting for most of them, and Cooper plowed in for the go-ahead score."This kid," said Miami running back Javarris James, speaking of the sophomore quarterback, "he's real poised."
Ponder was, too.Ponder, who ran for 144 yards against Miami last year, went 30 yards on a draw play to get deep into Hurricanes territory with 1 minute left. When Brandon Harris was flagged for pass interference, Florida State had 14 seconds to go 2 yards and win the game.First down, Harris tipped the ball away from Fortson.Second down, Ponder's pass for Fortson sailed high.
The 'Canes' defense keeps Ponder and FSU out of the end zone late.
Third down, Fortson got his hands on the ball as he hit the ground — and it squirted away. After the review, Miami could celebrate."Another typical Miami-Florida State game," Shannon said. "It's what you look forward to when you play Florida State. It seems the last couple of years it comes down to the last play."
Ponder completed 24 of 41 passes for a career-best 294 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to keep Florida State from dropping its third straight home game dating to last season, a first under Bowden."It was a poor throw. It was low," Ponder said of the final play. "We had an opportunity to win it. Now we've got to forget it."
Miami outgained Florida State 476-404."A heck of a television game," Bowden said.Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple's new schemes were an instant hit with the most important Miami fan: university president Donna Shalala, who beamed after Miami rolled up 229 yards on its 29 first-half plays, a 7.9 average."What's not to enjoy?" Shalala said when Miami was leading 14-10. "We've got an offense."So did Florida State.
The Seminoles scored the first 13 points of the second half, with Ponder running in from 9 yards out to put Florida State back on top on the first drive following intermission — aided by, of all things, a 15-yard late hit penalty on the kickoff by Miami kicker Matt Bosher — then throwing to Taiwan Easterling for a 21-yard score for a 23-14 edge with 4:57 left in the third.This one, though, was just getting started."We came a long way tonight," James said.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Safina, Sharapova and Roddick crash out

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic reacts to winning the first set against number one seeded Dinara Safina of Russia at the US Open Tennis tournament in New York.

"Dhoni world's top earning cricketer"

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has topped the list of world's 10 top earning cricketers compiled by Forbes.

The list 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.

Friday, September 4, 2009

NY Jets second-year linebacker Vernon Gholston has shown flashes of greatness in the preseason

Yong Kim/MCTNY Jets linebacker Vernon Gholston, right, sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb earlier this week at Giants Stadium.
In two games, Jets second-year linebacker Vernon Gholston has gone from a certified bust to a player with promise.
At that rate, who knows where the former sixth pick overall out of Ohio State in 2008 will be in another few games?
Gholston, who has been much-criticized since his arrival, notched his first sack in the Jets' 38-27 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night, and perhaps more importantly, he was stout at the point of attack in the run defense.
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