Friday, January 7, 2011

Asians Football Matches Fixtures

11.01.11 Korea DPRKorea DPR United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
15.01.11 IranIran Korea DPRKorea DPR
19.01.11 IraqIraq Korea DPRKorea DPR

Coaches assess Asian prospects

The new year is beginning with a bang in Asia, with the 2011 AFC Asian Cup set to kick off in Qatar on Friday. The tournament, which is celebrating its 15th edition, lasts for 22 days, during which time 16 of the continent's top teams will battle it out for Asian football’s most coveted prize.

Six past winners, including defending champions Iraq, feature prominently the line-up, three of which - Iran, Saudi Arabia and Japan – are bidding to become the first nation to win the tournament on four separate occasions. Hosts Qatar enter the championship looking to make history, while the likes of the United Arab Emirates and China PR are desperate to improve on previous runners-up finishes. Ahead of the big kick-off, caught up with some of the coaches involved to hear their views on the upcoming tournament.

East Asians aim high Japan and Korea Republic made history in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ by progressing to the second round for the first time on foreign soil. With their status among the Asian Cup favourites strengthened by these unprecedented achievements, the sides’ respective new coaches are aiming high ahead of the continental showpiece.

“We have showed what we are capable of during the World Cup,” Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni told “We are only second to Australia among Asian teams in the FIFA World Ranking and this reflects our strengths. Our ambition is to prove that we are Asia’s top team.”

Pitted in the group stage against nemesis Saudi Arabia, the team at whose hands they bowed out in the semi-finals four years ago, Japan know that they cannot expect a straightforward passage to the knockout stage. Nonetheless, their Italian coach is approaching the tournament in confident mood. As he said: “Japan are a well organised side and our fighting spirit is second to none.”

Al-Nasr vs Dubai 14:30GMT

The UAE Football League, also referred to as UFL, is the professional association football league of the United Arab Emirates. Founded in 1973, the league currently holds a number of tournaments for the 12 participating teams, including the Etisalat Pro-League, the Etisalat Cup, and the Etisalat Challenge League, all named after the UFL major sponsors Etisalat.
The current format of the league, the Etisalat Pro-League, has been established in the 2008-2009 season, and has each of the 12 participating football teams play each other twice in the 10-month long tournament.
The first team to win the UFL was Al-Sharjah, while the team with the most titles is Al-Ain who have won the league 9 times.
Some of the UFL prominent clubs include Al-Ain, Al-Wasl, Al-Shabbab ACD, Al-Sharjah, Al-Wahda, and Al-Ahli.
Al-Ahli, the 2008-09 champion, represented the hosting nation (UAE) in the 2009 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup. In the 2010 edition of the tournament, which was also hosted by UAE, the hosting nation was represented by the 2009-10 champions Al-Wahda.
The 1990-91 edition of the UFL did not produce a Championship winner, as the season was canceled due to the Gulf War
In the concluding game of "week 7", Al Wahda maintained their second win in the Etisalat Cup to snatch three valuable points after defeating Al Nasr with a solitary goal in the match played at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Omer Ali scored the all-important goal of the match two minutes before the final whistle capitalizing off the ball that rebounded off the goalkeeper's hands.
Both teams have collected 8 points so far, but Al Wahda won the head-to-head game this evening to stay one step ahead of Al Nasr who are classified in the 5th place in the second group.

Qatar vs Uzbekistan 16:15GMT

Qatar vs Uzbekistan

This will be the fourth successive Asian Cup appearance for Qatar but their record in the tournament leaves much to be desired with the Middle Eastern side managing to progress past the group stages just once in their history.
Qatar has not won a game in the competition since securing a shock win over Japan back in the 1988 edition and have drawn eight and lost five of their last 13 games in the tournament. However fans will be hoping for a successful Asian Cup both off and on the field this winter. 

Uzbekistan on the other hand will be hoping for a victorious start to the Asian Cup on Friday against a side that is placed 16 places below them in the FIFA rankings. The White Wolves have successfully progressed to the quarter finals of the competition on the last two occasions and a similar result is the minimum expectation from coach Vadim Abramov. 

Gritty Gambhir leads India to 1-1 draw

An insipid performance from India's bowlers on the fourth day had broken their aspirations of a maiden Test series victory in South Africa but, on the fifth, the batsmen ensured they achieved at least a draw for the first time in the country. In an anticlimactic end to an enthralling contest, Gautam Gambhir was at the forefront of the Indian resistance, Rahul Dravid blocked lots of balls, and South Africa's bowlers toiled 82 overs for three wickets, when they needed ten.
South Africa fell behind early in their pursuit of victory and eventually took only one wicket in each session. The key to their chances lay in how many they dismissed with the new ball, and India won a decisive battle by surviving the first 11 overs without damage. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel weren't as hostile as they were in the first innings but still bowled aggressively in the morning. Once that threat passed, India's passage was easier. They survived one more flutter of anxiety, soon after Dravid fell late in the second session, when AB de Villiers failed to catch an extremely tough chance off Gambhir. The game was called off with umpteen fielders waiting for catches that never came, and South Africa were still winless in a series at home since Bangladesh's visit in November 2008.
India did not try to win this deciding Test on its final morning - the target of 340 was always out of reach - but because they focused on survival and scored at about two runs an over, Graeme Smith was able to place as many close catchers as he pleased. Steyn got the ball to seam and swing away, though he wasn't as terrific as he was on the third day. Morkel posed the greater threat, targeting the bodies of both openers with balls that jagged into them from short of a length. One screamer from round the wicket rose so steeply that even Gambhir's best efforts to avoid it failed. The ball thudded painfully into his left arm, just below the elbow. It was the same injured arm that kept him off the field during South Africa's second innings and has ruled him out of the ODI series. Gambhir got it treated, and took guard again.
It made sense for Gambhir to try and face Steyn, while Sehwag countered Morkel. Steyn's swing into the left-hander's pads made it easier for Gambhir to face him. Sehwag, however, struggled against Morkel, getting hustled by deliveries that homed in at his body and beaten by others that straightened.
South Africa's first chance came when Lonwabo Tsotsobe replaced Steyn in the 11th over and Sehwag slashed him. The ball flew towards JP Duminy, standing deeper at point, and burst through his hands as he mistimed his jump. The let-off cost South Africa only a few deliveries, though, for in the next over Sehwag hung his bat out and edged Morkel to Boucher. Umpire Ian Gould asked the third umpire to check if Morkel had overstepped. He hadn't, by the smallest of margins. Sehwag's dismal tour was over; 144 runs in six innings was all he got.
The pressure eased when Tsotsobe and Harris were operating. Gambhir and Dravid blocked, left, and blocked some more. Dravid was careful to play Harris with bat in front of pad, ensuring nothing would pop up to the close catchers. The ball was turning, and it was seaming, but it was doing both slowly. India passed 50 when Gambhir jumped down the pitch and drove Harris to the cover boundary, but runs were of little consequence.
On either side of the lunch break, Smith brought himself on to bowl offbreaks and a couple spun sharply. He changed his bowlers frequently but for the majority of the second session Gambhir and Dravid were untroubled and they collected easy runs by exploiting unprotected boundaries. Gambhir slashed and cut Steyn through point twice and reached a valuable half-century. Dravid simply used up deliveries and scored when he could, scoring three soft fours in a Smith over. Before those boundaries he had played 89 balls for 18 runs.
In the 44th over, just when the Test seemed to be entering a phase of defensive torpor, Harris began to make things happen off the pitch. He ripped and bounced one sharply across Dravid and later in the over struck him low on the back foot in front of middle stump. The ball hit pad before bat but Gould said not out. Dravid played only 15 more balls, though, before edging Tsotsobe off the front foot to the cordon.
The opportunity to dismiss Gambhir, on 62 off 146 balls, came soon after, when a leading edge flew quickly to de Villiers at silly point. He grabbed repeatedly at the sharp chance but spilled the ball and Harris held his head. Gambhir played 37 more balls. Tendulkar was solid for 91 deliveries and he remained unbeaten, walking off Newlands with the series shared. VVS Laxman too couldn't be budged, after Gambhir had gloved Steyn's short ball down the leg side for 64. It was Boucher's 499th catch.
Steyn and Morkel's spells after tea were South Africa's last chance. They returned for one final attempt, an over each with the second new ball. Both were fruitless. India scored only 166 runs today and saved the series.

Reports suggest accused trio's defence differs Osman Samiuddin in Doha

As the spot-fixing hearing got underway in Doha, Qatar, speculation began to mount around the defence the three Pakistani players are constructing and the divergence in them.
The ICC and the three Pakistan players, who are facing charges of spot-fixing, made their opening statements on Thursday during a marathon seven-hour session at the Qatar Financial Centre civil and commercial courts.
After that the ICC began unveiling the evidence that has been collected against Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, believed to be a vast range of material including video footage and phone records; it is believed that this includes supporting evidence collected from the World Twenty20, held in the Caribbean last May before Pakistan's tour to England.
That process is expected to continue on Friday and is likely to include appearances from a number of witnesses called by the ICC over the next few days, including Shahid Afridi and Waqar Younis. Mazher Mahmood, the News of the World journalist who broke the story, is also expected to appear as a witness and the newspaper's evidence is expected to be significant.
After that the players are expected to begin their defence and BBC reported that in their opening statements, the trio had already assumed different stances over the no-balls that were allegedly bowled at the behest of Mazhar Majeed, their agent who appears on the NOTW video telling the undercover reporter exactly when they will be bowled. According to the BBC two players said they did not know why the no-balls were bowled, while one said he did it by mistake.
The report prompted an ICC spokesman to stress that the information had not come from the world's governing body; only the members of the tribunal, the players and lawyers and witnesses are allowed inside the court. "During this whole process there have been plenty of leaks but we can categorically confirm that none of them have come from the ICC."
Though difficult to confirm, this would tie-in with the build up to the hearings during which it has appeared increasingly likely the players may take different lines in their defence. Two of the three rejected a request by the PCB to have an observer from the board present during the hearings and the players have been staying separately in Doha.
The players arrived separately in the morning on the first day and left the same way nearly eight hours later; Amir and Butt left soon after the day was over, but Asif stayed back for half an hour reviewing the proceedings with his lawyer Alex Cameron before leaving.

England complete crushing Ashes victory

England ended 24 years of hurt in crushing style at the SCG as they secured an innings-and-83-run victory to take the Ashes series 3-1. The crowning moment came shortly before noon when Chris Tremlett found Michael Beer's inside edge to bowl him leg stump. It was the first time in their history that Australia have suffered three innings defeats in a series and left nobody in any doubt where the balance of power now lies.
The England players immediately embraced at the striker's end and savoured their moment in a tight team huddle. This has been a victory fashioned by exemplary planning and hard work where no stone has been left unturned. The defeat in Perth, by 267 runs, which levelled the series for Australia, only inspired the visitors to hit new heights and they proceeded to crush the hosts in Melbourne and Sydney.
England were frustrated for a while as showers scudded across the ground to cause a 45-minute suspension and then by an 86-run stand between Steve Smith and Peter Siddle. However, Graeme Swann broke through shortly before the new ball and a short time later Tremlett removed the last obstacle.
Smith and Siddle at least showed some fight as they came out and played their shots. Siddle's batting improvement since his return from injury is one of few bonuses to emerge from a terrible series for the hosts, and it highlights their problems that his run-scoring record is not far off that of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
The England bowlers couldn't quite recapture the intensity of the fourth evening when they claimed the extra half hour to try and wrap up victory. Tremlett appeared a little down on pace after his roaring burst the previous day, but England knew all they had to do was remain patient and their moment would arrive.
Swann had bowled well in the innings without reward so when he had Siddle taken at deep midwicket it was deserved success for giving Andrew Strauss control at vital stages. That was Swann's final bowl, though, as the new ball was taken straight away and Anderson, who will head home for ten days' rest, found Ben Hilfenhaus' edge to give the impressive Matt Prior another catch.
By now the Barmy Army were in full voice. Smith had time to bash his way to a second Test fifty, but he knew the end was close as he swung from the hip. A single exposed Beer to three balls of Tremlett's over and he only needed one delivery. England will party the day and night away in Sydney, yet knowing the focus of Strauss and Andy Flower they will soon be back preparing for the next challenge. Next stop: the best team in the world.

Determined Pakistan stifle hosts

Pakistan continued to punch above their weight in Tests under a new captain, earning the opening-day honours by stifling New Zealand on a pitch that has plenty of runs. Their advantage was a result of their perseverance as well as New Zealand's failure to build on a strong foundation laid by Brendon McCullum. Kane Williamson and Tim Southee, however, revived their team with a fighting stand, promising another tilt in the scales heading into the second day.

Pakistan's decision to bowl on a dry pitch appeared to be a mistake, and for good reason. There was virtually no swing, only slight movement off the track, and with the sun breaking out of an overcast sky, the prospects didn't seem bright for the three-pronged seam attack. McCullum's dominating approach, particularly after lunch, as he drove and pulled Umar Gul for sixes, temporarily served a chilling reminder of Pakistan's apparent misjudgment. But his dismissal, the subsequent stagnation against Abdur Rehman's left-arm spin and a stroke of luck vindicated Misbah-ul-Haq's decision at the toss.

New Zealand had themselves to blame for the slide. The batsmen didn't take advantage of the opportunities given, through umpiring errors and lapses in the field, and slipped during a shift in momentum brought about by Martin Guptill's self-imposed grind. Following the lunch break, Guptill played out five consecutive maidens against Rehman, who kept a tight line around middle and off. Despite the lack of turn, he was played respectfully with a straight bat that seemed devoid of intention to force the pace.

McCullum's wicket was the trigger. Since giving up wicketkeeping in Tests, he has enjoyed his role as opener and was on track for a big score this morning. He went after Gul in the first over, driving him over cover, and was particularly ruthless against the over-pitched deliveries, cracking Younis Khan and Wahab Riaz to the extra-cover boundary. He showed no inhibitions when attacking, even though Pakistan had plugged his favourite areas. They had a deep point for the cut, as well as two fielders square for the pull, and he beat both. He should have been out caught behind when he gloved Riaz in the 19th over but this carefree approach cost him his wicket after the break. He mowed Gul over midwicket and then slashed him straight to deep point the next ball.

It was then that Rehman stepped in. Attacking with a slip and two close-in catchers on either side of the pitch, he bowled quicker through the air, and only managed to extract spin when he flighted the ball. He didn't threaten but the nagging line sent Guptill into a shell that led to his dismissal.

Guptill had looked assured against pace, leaving deliveries in the channel outside off when there was a bit of nip, and kicked things off with a couple of straight drives. But his misery against Rehman - he scored 4 off 44 balls against him - ended when the bowler gave him his best possible chance to score; the full toss, however, was gifted as a catch to cover.

In the interim Taylor, who had a poor series in India, feathered one to the keeper as he tried to cut Rehman. Ryder, though, batted enterprisingly. Deliveries bowled on the pads were deftly glanced to the fine-leg boundary and when the opportunity came, Rehman was slog-swept for six. But a moment of ill luck robbed Ryder of his wicket; he was run-out backing up too far as Riaz deflected a straight drive onto the stumps. Despite his half-century, it was a day to forget for the man who played that drive, Guptill.

Williamson, playing his first Test at home, batted with the composure that guided him to a century on debut against India and rescued his team from 177 for 7. Barring a dropped catch at slip, Williamson was solid and seized any chance to play his favoured back-foot punch through cover and point. While watchful against Rehman, Williamson freed up against pace, the standout shot being a straight drive off Gul bowling with the new ball.

Williamson's assured presence was complemented by a determined innings from Southee, who seemed gifted with timing. Several of his boundaries were firm pushes in front of square, or were guided the ball behind point. His second half-century, which included three consecutive fours off Gul, underlined what was possible on the pitch and what the frontline batsmen had missed out on. The unbeaten 83-run stand prevented Pakistan's complete domination on a placid track

Pakistan v Newzealand 3rd ODI LIVE

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Colly eyes perfect send-off

The England all-rounder announced his decision to retire from Test cricket ahead of the fourth day's play of the fifth Test.
And with England requiring just three wickets to complete a 3-1 series win over Australia, Collingwood is chuffed to bits.
Collingwood, who played a part in the Ashes-winning squads in 2005 and 2009, told Sky Sports: "I'm absolutely chuffed to bits. I've got mixed emotions, obviously I made the announcement this morning to retire from the Test form of the game but the way we've played this kind of cricket here has been fantastic.
"It's put a huge smile on my face and we're in a great position in this match to win the series.
"I discussed it with my wife (Vicky) a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne, and once you start discussing it with your family, that's pretty much it.
"I decided 100 per cent a few days ago when I came here and played the first day and I pretty much knew it would be my last innings. I wanted to go out on a major high and make a big contribution but it didn't work - I don't think I'm built for fairytales to be honest!
"I'm very proud, I'm very happy with what I've done in my career. I think it's the right time to go. This England team is moving forward and progressing all the time. Unfortunately I'm not going to be there but it's up to the younger lads to come through.


"We've got some exceptional players coming through and I think it's time for them to have a good go.
"I wanted to go out there and if I'd scored a 50 or hundred it would have been the perfect way to go but this is close to perfect.
"Obviously playing against Australia, in Australia, we've had some lows out here in the past but to do what we've done on this tour so far - and hopefully win the series tomorrow - this is a near-perfect way to go."
Collingwood's place in the side had come under increasing scrutiny, with the 34-year-old struggling with the bat despite some eye-catching displays in the field.
And the Durham ace admitted the time was right to give someone else a crack at Test cricket.
"I'm very realistic. I haven't had the best series, I haven't been in the best form in Test cricket over the past six months," he said.
"I know where I am as a player and probably know where I am in the selectors' minds and stuff. I think it's time for the younger guys to have a go."

No decision on Grant future

West Ham's board has yet to decide if Avram Grant will remain the club's manager for Saturday's FA Cup game against Barnsley, according to Sky Sports News sources.

A senior figure at the club says the Hammers' hierarchy is undecided about whether Wednesday night's 5-0 defeat at Newcastle will be Grant's last game in charge.
But it is believed the board has no plans to hold an emergency board meeting on Thursday to discuss the manager's future.
Speculation surrounding Grant's position began to mount before Christmas with the Hammers having spent all season in the drop zone.
A four-match unbeaten run during the festive programme boosted their hopes of survival, temporarily lifting them out of the bottom three.
But a woeful performance on Tyneside, which saw the Hammers slip back to the bottom of the Premier League, has put the Israeli coach's position back under scrutiny.
Bookmakers have seen a steady stream of bets on Grant to become the next Premier League manager to lose his job with Sky Bet making him 5/4 second favourite behind Roy Hodgson to go.
Sky Bet's Dale Tempest said: "West Ham have been struggling since the very first day of the season and despite some recent better performances last night's 5-0 thrashing at Newcastle was probably the low point of the Hammers season. It seems a matter of "when" not "If" Grant is replaced

Titans to release Young

The Titans finished last in the AFC South with a 6-10 record and after clashing with head coach Jeff Fisher mid-season, Young will be playing elsewhere in 2011.
"I informed our general manager Mike Reinfeldt to move forward with plans to begin the process of identifying the next quarterback for our franchise," said Titans owner Bud Adams.
"He will inform Vince Young's agent that Vince will not be on our roster next season.
"I want to offer my personal thanks to Vince for all of his positive contributions to the club.
"These kinds of decisions are never easy and this is especially true for this particular player. I certainly wish that things would have worked out better, but I think it is best for the franchise that we move on at this point."
Coach Fisher remains under pressure to keep his post with Adams expected to make another announcement shortly.
"I also informed Jeff today that I was continuing the evaluation of the coaching staff and I am hoping to make a decision soon," he said.

Gambhir leads India through first session

India did not try to win this deciding Test on its final morning - the target of 340 was always out of reach - but they made a significant stride towards saving the match, and the series, by losing only Virender Sehwag in the first session. South Africa's attack wasn't as hostile as it was in India's first innings but Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn still bowled aggressively with the new ball. Gautam Gambhir, batting with a battered left hand, was at the forefront of the resistance.
South Africa broke through only at the stroke of the first hour - when Sehwag edged Morkel behind - but that was their only success in 28 overs. They have another 62 to try and take the nine wickets needed to win their first series at home since Bangladesh visited in November 2008. India will be happy, having seen off one out of three sessions without serious damage, but the game could change quickly.
The pitch assisted Steyn and Morkel early on, with several deliveries rising sharply from a good length. Steyn got the ball to seam and swing away, through he wasn't as terrific as he was on the third day. Morkel posed the greater threat, targeting the bodies of both openers with balls that jagged into them from short of a length. One screamer from round the wicket rose so steeply that even Gambhir's best efforts to avoid it failed. The ball thudded painfully into his left arm, just below the elbow. It was the same injured arm that kept him off the field and out of the ODI series. A while later another screamer threatened Gambhir, who managed to swerve skillfully, and Boucher had to leap with one arm outstretched over his head to collect it. Morkel had three slips, a gully, a leg gully and a short leg waiting for the catch.
It made sense for Gambhir to try and face Steyn, while Sehwag countered Morkel. Steyn's swing into the left-hander's pads made it easier for Gambhir to face. Sehwag, however, struggled against Morkel, getting hustled by deliveries that homed in at his body and beaten by others that straightened. There were several plays and misses, but nothing was edged and there were no lbw shouts.
South Africa's first chance came when Lonwabo Tsotsobe replaced Steyn in the 11th over and Sehwag slashed him. The ball flew towards JP Duminy, standing deeper at point, and burst through his hands as he mis-timed his jump. The let-off cost South Africa nothing for in the next over Sehwag hung his bat out and edged Morkel to Boucher. Umpire Ian Gould asked the third umpire to check if Morkel had overstepped. He hadn't, by the smallest of margins. Sehwag's dismal tour was over, 144 runs in six innings was all he got.
The pressure eased when Tsotsobe and Paul Harris were operating and Gambhir and Dravid simply focused on survival. They left plenty and defended solidly. Dravid was careful to play Harris with bat in front of pad, ensuring nothing would pop up to the close catchers. There wasn't much happening off the pitch for Tsotsobe, and when he got too straight, Gambhir clipped him through leg.
India reached 50 when Gambhir jumped down the pitch and drove Harris through cover. They had scored at less than two an over. Steyn returned for a burst before lunch but couldn't make a breakthrough. He will return after the break and strive agai

England on the brink of series glory

England were three wickets away from an emphatic 3-1 series victory after more superlative all-round cricket left Australia in tatters on 7 for 213, still 151 runs short of making the visitors bat again. James Anderson produced an outstanding display of reverse swing, and Chris Tremlett battered the batsmen with hostile pace, to follow up Matt Prior's first Ashes hundred which led England to their highest total down under.
England claimed the extra half an hour to try and complete victory after Tremlett removed Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson in consecutive balls amid a heady atmosphere as the travelling fans, who outnumbered the locals, savoured every moment. However, Steve Smith and Peter Siddle managed to see out the eight further overs to keep England waiting overnight to celebrate.
Prior added 102 for the eighth wicket with Tim Bresnan (35) to extend the advantage to mammoth proportions before the innings finally ended for 644 shortly after lunch. Any hope of Australia levelling the Ashes had long since disappeared underneath the deluge of runs and it was down to the batsmen to see how deep they could dig. Shane Watson started brightly before a horrendous run out, then England's skills with the old ball - Swann's probing spin and Anderson's masterful control of swing - meant the pressure was never released
Anderson dispatched Usman Khawaja and Michael Clarke in a high-class six-over spell, while Bresnan was also a significant threat with the older ball. Australia's remote chance of salvaging pride disappeared when Mike Hussey carved Bresnan to point six overs before the close. Tremlett's double blast momentarily brought the prospect of a swift finish when he bounced out Haddin and clattered Johnson's off stump.
Watson played his shots at the start of innings, collecting seven boundaries with a combination of thumping pulls and drives, but for the third time in the series he was involved in a horrid mix-up and this time he was the one to depart. Phil Hughes turned the ball into midwicket where two runs were there for the taking, but he ambled the first so when Watson turned and sprinted back for the second Hughes hadn't moved. Watson soon ended up at the same end while Kevin Pietersen's throw reached Prior.
Hughes, rattled by the incident, didn't last much longer when he edged a good ball from Bresnan that seamed away a touch. Bresnan was again superb in tying down the batsmen and alongside Swann dried up the scoring after the early flurry of boundaries.
Khawaja produced another composed display until, the ball after pulling Anderson for four, he followed one that reversed away from him and edged to the wicketkeeper. By then Anderson was making the ball do exactly what he wanted and gave Clarke a thorough examination to match that of Simon Jones at Old Trafford during the 2005 Ashes.
It took all of Clarke's skill to survive as long as he did but eventually he pushed at one that moved away and even before Prior took the catch he was cursing himself. For a moment Anderson thought he had a third when Hussey drove at a full delivery, however the noise was bat clipping ground and Andrew Strauss correctly opted not to review.

Swann also played his part in maintaining the pressure and was denied a wicket he deserved when Ian Bell dropped a low chance at short cover offered by Haddin. It's a sign of how well England have operated as a unit that Swann, who was expected to be a major wicket-taker here, has just one to his name yet the team are so dominant.
As has been the case for the majority of the series, England's day couldn't have gone much more to plan. Prior resumed on 54 and reached his hundred, the fourth of his career, with an expansive cover drive off Michael Beer and coming off 109 balls it was England's fastest Ashes ton since Ian Botham at Headingley in 1981.
He has always been one of the finest off-side drivers in the England team and despite defensive fields had few problems picking the gaps. He also showed a deftness of touch to milk the spinners, then when the third new ball was taken made the most of the extra pace. As the runs piled up, England passed 500 for the fourth time in series, another new record against Australia.
Bresnan played the ideal support role and having taken 61 balls to reach double figures began to unleash some powerful strokes of his own. This situation was far from the most challenging he'll face but he showed a good range of strokes and a solid defence before edging Johnson to second slip. Swann played with the freedom the situation afforded him and Prior eventually fell as he slashed at Ben Hilfenhaus, although the TV umpire checked for a no-ball and it was only fractionally in the bowler's favour.
Swann proceeded to take 17 off five balls against Johnson and his last four-over spell cost 48 runs. It's a long time since Australia have been dominated so extensively in a five-match series on home soil and on Friday the final nails will be hammered in.

Amir optimistic ahead of hearing

As the Doha hearing into the spot-fixing case against three Pakistani players finally got underway on Thursday, Mohammad Amir, the youngest, most potent symbol of the trio expressed cautious optimism about the outcome of a hearing that could effectively end his career.

Along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, Amir was charged by the ICC for allegedly bowling pre-planned deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test against England in August last year. The charges were the result of a sting operation by the English tabloid News of the World and the ICC acted immediately, suspending the three from international cricket.

As time has passed, much attention has fallen on Amir, who until then had swiftly taken his place among the brightest, most charismatic young talents in the game; until the scandal emerged, Amir was favourite to win the ICC's emerging player of the year award having just become the youngest bowler to complete 50 Test wickets.

The last few months, including a failed appeal to lift his provisional suspension, have been difficult, however. His future, as he admitted, is now on the line. "Those early days were good for me and these last few months have been tough," Amir told ESPNcricinfo before leaving for the hearing.

"This is a question of my career and I've been through some tough days. I've overcome them and I will hopefully overcome more in the future. We've prepared well for the case and put in our effort."

Both Amir and his lawyer Shahid Karim remain confident that their preparations are complete. Much has been made of Amir's youth and the ensuing leeway in any sanctions he may receive if found guilty because of that. Indications suggest that the defence may play on his unblemished disciplinary track record and his 18 years.

"If you look at the ICC code there could be some advantage with that," Karim said. "He is very important to the future of Pakistan and the response we have gotten from people so far, I am very hopeful. You can call our case strong or whatever but I am hopeful."

The players are staying in separate hotels with their lawyers and speculation has grown in recent weeks over the potential interplay between the three as the hearings begin. A leaked report of the testimony of Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, recently suggested that Amir's no-ball was bowled at the behest of Butt, who was captain at the time. The suggestion that he acted under duress might gain importance in Amir's defence, though it is understood that so far, the issue has not cropped up. Karim was understandably unwilling to expand.

"I cannot say much about this right now but we will see in the case how we use that. There are many perspectives which we feel are our in our favour and we will use that to our advantage."

Amir was the first to arrive at the Qatar Financial Centre civil and commercial courts, well before the scheduled 9.30am start. He was followed by Asif and his lawyer Alex Cameron though in keeping with Asif's approach throughout, they didn't speak to the media.

Apart from a couple of media appearances unrelated to the case, Asif has maintained a steady silence, possibly at the behest of advice from his British-based defence. He was the only one of the three who didn't appeal against the provisional suspension. Butt was the last to arrive with his legal team and though he has been the most voluble in his defence over the last few months, he also refused to speak.

The members of the independent tribunal, headed by Michael Beloff QC, were the first to arrive. "I cannot comment very much on it because we haven't even started the hearings," Sharad Rao, one of the members, said. Asked about the impact of the hearing on the future of the game, he said, "The future of cricket is good because that is what the whole exercise is about, so that it should be very clean game that we can rely on the results."

AC Milan vs Cagliari

It is turning out be a great title race as many teams have a chance to go out there and make a statement in the coming few weeks and establish themselves as contenders while Milan are currently leading with three points to Napoli who will be going head to head with Champions Inter milan, While AC Milan are playing some good football and would like to continue the trend and would like to stretch their lead to 6 points if things go the way they want this matchday.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doha 2011 Roger Federer Hit A Front Tweener Between The Legs Shot Winner in R1 Match

Federer strikes between-the-legs winner in Doha win

DOHA Roger Federer added to his repertoire of through-the-legs winners on his way to beating Dutch qualifier Thomas Schoorel 7-6 (3), 6-3 at the Qatar Open in his first official match of the season.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal also advanced, beating Karol Beck 6-3, 6-0.
After a sluggish first set, the No. 2-ranked Swiss hit his stride in the second. Leading 5-2 and faced with a ball that changed direction after clipping the top of the net, Federer flicked it through his legs for a clean winner into the corner.
“It’s one of the best shots again of my career, one I’m going to look back on and smile, of course,” Federer said. “It was quite fantastic.”
The 21-year-old Schoorel, playing only his second ATP-level match, managed a smile as the crowd applauded. Schoorel went on to hold his serve, but Federer sealed the win in the next game.
Federer successfully pulled off the shot—also known as a “tweener”—at the previous two U.S. Opens, at last year’s Shanghai Masters and at the 2007 Dubai Open.
In the second round, Federer plays Swiss compatriot Marco Chiudinelli, who beat Reda El Amrani 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion struggled in the first set against Schoorel, and had to save three set points when trailing 5-4 in the first set. However, he reeled off five points in a row to even the score at 5-5 and then took advantage of three long returns by Schoorel to take the set on a tiebreak.
“It was a difficult match, especially in the first set,” Federer said. “In the first set, he played really well. This player has quality.”
Federer broke serve for the first time in the fourth game of the second set before easing to victory in 68 minutes.
“I hope to do well here,” said Federer, who won the tournament in 2005 and 2006. “I know (Rafael) Nadal is here and that makes this event very interesting.”
Nadal led 3-0 in the first set, and broke Beck all three times in the second.
“I try to do better every day and be consistent,” said Nadal, who won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year. “I wanted to do that. It is important to do that to keep my (top) ranking.”
Nadal, who is seeking his first trophy in Doha, will face either Lukas Lacko of Slovakia and Pere Riba of Spain in the next round.

Arsenal vs Manchester City

Arsenal may have been off the pace in the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/93, but they made up for it by winning both the FA and League Cups.
The Premier League crown eluded them until 1998 - two years into manager Arsene Wenger's tenure - when they did the league and FA Cup double. Under the Frenchman, the Gunners shook off their "boring" image and began to play some of the most attractive football in England.
In eight of his 14 seasons at the club, Arsenal have finished first or second. And together with star players such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, Wenger took Arsenal to another "double" in 2002.
The Gunners reached the Champions' League final in 2006, becoming the first London team to do so, but lost to Barcelona. Their Barclaycard Premiership title in 2003/04 saw them become only the second team to win the league without losing a match - earning them the title "The Invincibles." Overall they went 49 matches unbeaten, which is a national record..

Manchester City have spent 13 years in the Premier League since its inception in 1992. In the 2002/03 season, they became one of only two English teams to have qualified for the UEFA Cup through the 'Fair Play ranking'. This meant that the plush new City of Manchester Stadium was treated to European football just weeks after opening for the start of the following campaign.
Kevin Keegan and then Stuart Pearce, established the club in the Premier League, and under the latter, they finished in 14th place in the 2006/07 season. He was replaced by Sven-Goran Eriksson who guided the club to a ninth place finish in the 2007/08 campaign. City also secured UEFA Cup football via the 'Fair Play ranking' for a second time.
However, Eriksson was replaced by Mark Hughes in June 2008 and in September 2008, a takeover by the Abu Dhabi United group suddenly made City one of the richest clubs in the world. On deadline day, they smashed the British transfer record with a surprise £32.5m swoop for Real Madrid's Brazilian striker Robinho. However they failed in a £100m bid to sign Kaka from AC Milan in January 2009.
In December 2009 they sacked manager Mark Hughes and replaced him with Roberto Mancini who guided City to fifth, their highest Premier League finish. However they narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification.

South Africa VS India Day -4

South Africa vs India           10:30  SA

Today Matches of English Premier League

Arsenal vs Manchester City                  19:45 GMT

Blackburn Rovers vs Liverpool FC       20:00GMT 

Everton FC vs Tottenham Hotspur        20:00GMT

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tendulkar guides India after Steyn burst

Dale Steyn bowled only 13 overs in the first two sessions of the third day, but to India's batsmen it was an eternity. Rarely in the modern era does a fast bowler threaten with every ball, like Steyn did at Newlands. He charged in at full pelt off a long run on the hottest day of the Test, his sinewy body straining to the limit, and subjected hapless batsmen to a barrage of outswingers that curved in towards middle stump before searing away off the pitch. His spells in the first session were among the finest unrewarded efforts and India, with luck and application, survived them to claw forward in the deciding Test. After lunch, however, Steyn's luck changed with the second new ball, and his sustained hostility during a spell, that was unbelievably more aggressive than the first, yielded two wickets, and set India back considerably.
For India, there was Sachin Tendulkar. He dragged the innings along when all others apart from Gautam Gambhir failed, relying on the strength of his mind, faith in his technique and a little bit of luck to reach his 51st century. It will rank among his finest because of the rigorous examinations he passed. Tendulkar was beaten innumerable times by Steyn's outswingers, beaten several times by Lonwabo Tsotsobe extra bounce outside off stump, and cut in half repeatedly by Morne Morkel's jagging in-cutters. But Tendulkar survived, and attacked when he could. His 176-run stand with Gambhir gave India the edge, which vanished once four wickets fell for 43 runs. In Harbhajan Singh, Tendulkar had a fighting partner, and their unbroken partnership of 69 once again helped India claw forward by reducing the deficit to 46.
The first over from Steyn was an example of how to begin a day. His first ball sped into Tendulkar, landed on good length, reared up, seamed away late and beat the bat. The second was fuller, swung away and took the edge as Tendulkar lunged forward. Mark Boucher caught it too, diving forward, but his appeal had little support from Steyn. The third fell short of gully, again off Tendulkar's edge, and he brought up his half-century, having resumed overnight on 49. The fourth beat the bat as well. For the fifth, Tendulkar stood out of his crease to counter the swing and drove to the extra-cover boundary. He defended the sixth, and had survived the best over of the Test.
For 53 minutes, the spectators at the Calvin Grove only got to see Tendulkar's batting from behind, while those at the Wynberg End had the same view of Gambhir. Tendulkar faced all five overs of Steyn's first spell, while Gambhir negotiated Morkel. The runs came only in twos and fours, a lot of them through edges, and 42 out of the first 50 balls were dots.
Steyn did not start at top speed because he was focusing on swing but he soon revved it up. Tendulkar defended several outswingers confidently, but there were uncertain moments. Morkel began his spell by testing Gambhir's patience with a succession of short-of-a-length deliveries that bounced steeply outside off stump. Only in the eighth over of the day did Gambhir's discipline in leaving deliveries outside off waver, and he was beaten often.
Tsotsobe replaced Steyn for the 61st over and continued the trend of beating Tendulkar's bat. Tendulkar responded with a powerful pull to the midwicket boundary and a carve over gully. In Tsotsobe's next over, the 13th of the morning, Tendulkar flicked through midwicket for the day's first single.
Soon Paul Harris' deliveries were jumping at Gambhir for he was bowling wider, aiming for the rough. One ball in the 72nd over leapt at Gambhir and kissed the glove but Boucher failed to take a tough chance. The next ball was straighter and took the edge, this time Boucher held it. Harris could have had Tendulkar as well, had he been quick enough to catch a ball that was travelling at scary speed. Instead, he got Laxman out as the ball hurt his fingers as it brushed them and broke the stumps at the non-striker's end.
India resumed after lunch on 237 for 4 and Steyn was back at his best. After five dot balls, he produced an outswinger to rival the one that bowled Michael Vaughan. This time, Cheteshwar Pujara's pad was in the way. MS Dhoni lasted three balls, wafting at one that swerved away to slip. Harbhajan looked like he would get out every ball, so hapless was he against Steyn. One outswinger even clipped his off stump, but the bails stayed on.
Tendulkar tried to take strike as Steyn approached his five-overs-per-spell limit and shield Harbhajan. He had brought up his century by top-edging a hook off Morkel for six over the wicketkeeper. He had been cut in half by the previous ball.
Both Tendulkar and Harbhajan scored more freely against the other bowlers. Harbhajan mowed Tsotsobe for six over the leg side, and when Steyn returned for a fiery burst just before tea, Harbhajan lofted him over the long-on boundary to bring the deficit below fifty. Through it all, was Tendulkar, cutting, uppercutting and driving India forward.

Man Utd v Stoke City 20:00 GMT

Manchester United are the most successful Premier League club having won the title 11 times. It all began in 1993 when manager Sir Alex Ferguson ended a 26-year wait to lift the Premier League crown.
The signing of Eric Cantona for £1.2m from Leeds United proved a masterstroke as the Frenchman was instrumental in the title victory, along with the likes of Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin, Ryan Giggs and Paul Ince.
United retained the trophy in the following campaign and romped to further titles in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003. More silverware was added to the Red Devils' burgeoning trophy cabinet with FA Cup success in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2004, plus League Cup victories in 1992 and 2006.
Perhaps the most memorable time in the club's history was the treble-winning season of 1999 when they added the European Champions League trophy to the league title and FA Cup.
Chelsea briefly broke their league dominance with title wins in 2005 and 2006. But in the 2006/07 season, the Red Devils roared back to regain the Barclays Premiership.
They went one better in 2007/08, enjoying their most successful campaign since winning the treble. They saw off the challenge of Chelsea and Arsenal to win an exciting Barclays Premier League title race and defeated the Blues on penalties in the Champions League final after a 1-1 draw between the two sides in Moscow.
In 2008/09, United made it a hat-trick of titles, also winning the Carling Cup but narrowly missing out to Barcelona in the Champions League final.
They retained the Carling Cup in 2010 but finished a point behind Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League after a tense race which went to the final day of the campaign.

Stoke City secured a third season in the Barclays Premier League with an impressive 11th place finish at the end of 2009/10.
Manager Tony Pulis again exceeded expectations by confirming the Potters' place in the top flight with a handful of matches to spare a year after they placed 12th.
This is Pulis' second spell in charge at the club. He originally parted company with the Potters at the end of the 2004/05 season. Dutch manager Johan Boskamp stepped in but left at the end of the season after a mid-table finish.
Boskamp's departure came as former-chairman Peter Coates was completing a takeover of the club and he reappointed Pulis who, after leading the club to eighth in the 2006/07 season, guided them to promotion.
Prior to their promotion, Stoke had not competed in the top flight since the 1984/85 season.
Their most recent trophy was won in 2000 when their first overseas manager, Gudjon Thordarson, guided them to The Auto Windscreens trophy. It was the Icelander who led them to promotion into the First Division in 2001.

Tuesday 4th January 2011

Blackpool v Birmingham20:00
Fulham v WBA20:00
Man Utd v Stoke City20:00

Match drawn after Pakistani fightback

New Zealand Cricket XI, a shadow New Zealand Test team, have come out of the tour match against the Pakistanis in Whangarei with the psychological advantage of having taken a 97-run first-innings lead. The match ended in a draw after both teams decided to end the third and final day's play early, with New Zealand having reached 111 for 4 in 32 overs in their second innings.
Misbah-ul-Haq, the visitors' captain, completed his century on the third day as his team added another 53 runs to their overnight total of 234 for 8. Misbah, who has scored half-centuries in each of his last three Test innings, remained unbeaten, finishing on 126, but New Zealand will be satisfied that he was the only Pakistani batsman to go past fifty. The New Zealand Cricket XI bowling attack was similar to the one expected to take-on Pakistan in the first Test, which starts on Friday, with Chris Martin, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee and Brent Arnel all featuring in the tour match.
Martin and Vettori had already taken three wickets apiece on the second day. On Tuesday morning, James Franklin picked up his second wicket of the match, dismissing Sohail Tanvir for a duck. Pakistan's last-wicket pair put together 51 runs, with Tanvir Ahmed scoring 25 and sticking around for 52 balls to support Misbah. Southee finally took the last wicket, getting Tanvir Ahmed out caught by Tim McIntosh.
Umar Gul was able to prevent Brendon McCullum from building on the confidence he earned with his first-innings double-century, bowling him for 18. Gul dismissed Kane Williamson two balls later for a duck to leave the home side at 25 for 2. McIntosh and James Franklin spent some time at the wicket, getting 26 and 30 respectively. Younis Khan took the final wicket of the day with his seamers, bowling McIntosh. Wicketkeeper Reece Young and Southee were unbeaten at the end of play

Tuffey replaces McKay in Test squad

Daryl Tuffey, the New Zealand fast bowler, has been included in the squad for the two-Test series against Pakistan, starting Friday. He takes the place of Wellington fast bowler Andy McKay, who hasn't recovered fully from a side strain.
Tuffey played the last of his 26 Tests during the home series against Australia last March. He has played only four Tests in the last six-and-a-half years but is a more regular member of New Zealand's one-day side. Tuffey had missed much of the one-day series against India last month due to a bicep strain.
New Zealand's fast bowling department has been hit hard by injuries in recent times. Hamish Bennett, who impressed with his pace on Test debut against India in early November, suffered a groin strain in that match and hasn't played high-level cricket since. McKay is back to bowling, but isn't fit enough for the sustained spells required in Test matches.
The other fast bowlers in the New Zealand Test squad, which was announced two weeks ago, are Chris Martin, Tim Southee, Brent Arnel and allrounder James Franklin.

Suspended trio head to Qatar for hearings

Suspended Pakistan trio Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have flown out to Qatar to attend a hearing of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Tribunal. The three-member tribunal headed by Michael Beloff QC will hold a six-day long session starting Thursday before delivering its verdict on the three players.
The players were suspended by the ICC in September following spot-fixing allegations against them during the Lord's Test against England a month earlier. The allegations were raised after a sting operation by Britain's News of the World tabloid claiming that several Pakistani players took money from a bookmaker to bowl deliberate no-balls.
"My lawyer has prepared the case extensively and I hope that I will be cleared," Amir told reporters at Lahore airport. "This is the toughest period of my life but I am confident that it will be over and I will be playing for Pakistan soon."
Salman is being represented by British-based lawyer Yasin Patel, Asif by Allan Cameron, brother of British Prime Minister David Cameron, while Aamer's lawyer is Shahid Karim from Pakistan.
The ICC's three-man tribunal includes Beloff, Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa and Sharad Rao of Kenya. Beloff, the ICC's code of conduct commissioner, had chaired the hearings into the appeals of Amir and Butt against their suspensions in Dubai, and had upheld the ICC's decision.

England hold the edge despite Johnson's efforts

Mitchell Johnson did his best to keep Australia alive in the final Ashes Test with a vital half-century and two key wickets on an absorbing day, but England were handily placed on 3 for 167 in reply to 280. Andrew Strauss hit a sparkling 58-ball 60 to launch England's reply following Johnson's counterattacking 53, then Alastair Cook maintained his prolific form only to lose Kevin Pietersen shortly before the close.
Strauss and Jonathan Trott fell in quick succession to leave England 2 for 99 and memories of Perth, where Johnson had sparked a dramatic England collapse, were not far away. Cook should have become Michael Beer's first Test wicket on 46, but the delivery was called no-ball after Billy Bowden asked to check the front line when Cook lofted to mid-on. However, to Beer's huge credit he remained focused on the game and was able to steady himself under Pietersen's hook shot at fine leg in what could prove a pivotal wicket.
Australia were struggling to make 200 before Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus combined to add 76 for the ninth wicket but their momentum was eroded as Strauss raced out of the blocks against some shoddy bowling. Hilfenhaus was especially disappointing, dropping short at a friendly pace to allow Strauss free pull shots one of which cleared deep square-leg for six
Michael Clarke made an early mark as captain when he handed Johnson the new ball for the first time since the Lord's Test in 2009, but his opening spell lasted three overs, during which he was cut by both batsmen, and Strauss was motoring along at more than a run-a-ball in a perfect tone-setting display. The England captain also drove with authority, a sign his game is in top order, as Clarke began to realise the challenges of captaincy in the current Australian era.
Strauss went to fifty shortly after tea when he scythed a cut over the slips but Hilfenhaus provided relief for Australia when he went round the wicket and took off stump with one that shaped away from the left hander. That breakthrough sparked a lift in Australia's bowling and Trott fell for his first Test duck when he dragged Johnson into his stumps.
Cook had trailed in Strauss's wake during the opening partnership but oozed the confidence that over 600 runs in the series has brought him. His fifty came from 113 balls and when he'd made 59 reached 5000 for his career with the promise of plenty more to come.
Beer's first ball in Test cricket was dispatched by Pietersen, but despite the sickening disappointing of seeing a wicket denied he held himself together well. Pietersen had taken a blow on the arm early in his innings, yet was desperate to impose himself and couldn't resist taking on Johnson despite the close being four overs away which left James Anderson to survive a late bombardment
Despite the two periods where runs flowed from Australia's tail and England's openers it wasn't easy when bowlers maintained consistency which is what the visitors did superbly for the first two hours. Brad Haddin set a poor tone for the home side in the fourth over of the day when he played a flat-footed waft outside off against Anderson, which wasn't the best way to start his stint at No.6. There was still life on offer in the pitch for the pacemen and both Mike Hussey and Steve Smith had to concentrate on defence.
After his double failure in Melbourne, Hussey was again looking solid but at no point did he get away from England as he had in Brisbane and Perth. Even taking into account bowler-friendly conditions and a sluggish outfield which kept boundaries to a minimum it was tough going by Australia. Paul Collingwood then claimed one of the biggest wickets of his Test career when a tight over to Hussey was rewarded with an inside edge into the pads and onto the stumps.
More galling for Hussey was that the strike came with the last delivery before the new ball and Collingwood was promptly removed from the attack. Smith had played against his natural instincts but couldn't resist flashing a drive at Anderson which went straight to third slip and it took just four balls to work over Peter Siddle who edged low to Strauss.
Johnson drove the ball as sweetly as anyone and Strauss was too quick to set his men back which conceded the advantage to a No. 8 in favourable bowling conditions. Hilfenhaus played his part, flicking Tim Bresnan over midwicket for six, and Johnson was happy to milk the deep-set field to give his partner the strike.
Johnson cut loose early in the afternoon as he launched Graeme Swann over midwicket for four followed by six then brought up his fifty with a nudge into the leg side which was greeted by huge roars. Bresnan broke through when Johnson missed an expansive drive and Anderson removed Hilfenhaus for his fourth wicket and 21st scalp of the series. However, those late-order runs could yet prove a vital factor in the final outcome.

Tendulkar steers India through torrid session

The first session of the third day was unadulterated entertainment. It contained hostile fast bowling, determination from Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, innumerable plays, misses and edges, and only two wickets and 95 runs. With a little more fortune, South Africa could have picked up a handful of wickets in that enthralling session - they beat the bat and hit the edge so many times. They got only two. Gautam Gambhir's dismissal ended the overnight partnership at 176 and VVS Laxman's wicket was the result of a dropped catch and the little bit of fortune South Africa richly deserved. So though Sachin Tendulkar progressed towards his 51st Test century and India shaded the session, the hosts will enjoy their lunch a little bit more.
The first over from Steyn was an example of how to begin a day. There were no warm-up deliveries. His first ball angled into Tendulkar, landed on good length, reared up and seamed away late. Tendulkar prodded tentatively from his crease and was beaten. The second ball was fuller, swung away and took the edge as Tendulkar lunged forward. Mark Boucher caught it too, diving forward, but his appeal had little support from Steyn, and umpire Ian Gould said not out with conviction. The third ball fell short of gully, again off Tendulkar's edge, and he brought up his half-century, having resumed overnight on 49. The fourth beat the bat as well. For the fifth, Tendulkar stood out of his crease to counter the swing and drove to the extra-cover boundary. He defended the sixth, and had survived the best over of the Test.
For 53 minutes, the spectators at the Calvin Grove only got to see Tendulkar's batting from behind, while those at the Wynberg End had the same view of Gambhir. There were no singles during this period as Tendulkar faced all five overs of Steyn's first spell, while Gambhir negotiated Morkel. The runs came in twos and fours, a lot of them through edges, and 42 out of the first 50 balls were dots.
Steyn's spell was intense. He did not start at top speed because he was focusing to swing but he soon revved it up, sending down a volley of perfectly pitched outswingers. Tendulkar countered, making an initial movement forward and towards the off to adjust to the movement. He defended several confidently, but there were uncertain moments, like the time he tried to pull out of a shot but was too late, and the ball cannoned off the bat through the gap between second slip and gully.
Morkel began his spell by testing Gambhir's patience with a succession of short-of-a-length deliveries that bounced steeply outside off stump. Gambhir left the first eight and fended the first ball aimed at his body awkwardly for four down leg side. Only in the eighth over of the day did Gambhir's discipline in leaving deliveries outside off begin to waver. He mis-timed a drive to cover, pushed away from his body and edged through the cordon, and drove a half volley through the off side. Morkel then began to bowl fuller outside off, and Gambhir began to chase, and was beaten repeatedly.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who had induced three edges on the second day, replaced Steyn for the 61st over and continued the trend of beating the bat, seaming two deliveries past Tendulkar's bat from over the wicket. Tendulkar responded with a powerful pull to the midwicket boundary and a carve over gully. In Tsotsobe's next over, the 13th of the morning, Tendulkar flicked through midwicket for the day's first single.
With Jacques Kallis off the field because of a side strain, Paul Harris' left-arm spin gave India respite from the all-pace attack. Both Tendulkar and Gambhir played him with more intent, coming out of the crease to drive through the off side. The intensity of the test had decreased a notch with Steyn and Morkel refueling, but Tsotsobe produced enough deliveries from round the wicket that whizzed past Tendulkar's attempted drives, cuts and defensive strokes. In the middle of all the uncertainty against Tsotsobe, Tendulkar played one wonderfully assured straight drive. It was that sort of battle.
Gambhir also had moments of trouble against Tsotsobe, when one delivery jumped and hurt his elbow on the right hand. Soon Harris' deliveries were jumping at Gambhir, from a line wider than the one he bowled yesterday. One ball in the 72nd over leapt at Gambhir and kissed the glove but Boucher failed to take a tough chance. The next ball was straighter and took the edge, this time Boucher held it and Harris celebrated animatedly.
Harris could have had Tendulkar caught and bowled as well, had he been quick enough to hold on to a ball that was travelling at him at scary speed. Instead, he got Laxman as the ball hurt his fingers as it brushed them and broke the stumps at the non-striker's end. The nimblest batsmen might not have had a chance, but Laxman was merely lounging outside his crease.
Steyn returned for a second spell, with the second new ball, shortly before lunch and produced a replay of his first ball of the day, this time to Cheteshwar Pujara. India went into lunch trailing by 125 but they will have to do the hard work against Steyn and Morkel all over again

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fan Night January 4th

nyk     7:00PM ET

Browns fire Mangini after promising start to season turns south

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reports that several league executives believe John Fox, coming off a nine-year stint with the Carolina Panthers, stands at the front of the line to replace Mangini. The Browns are also eyeing Jon Gruden as a potential replacement.
Mangini met with Browns president Mike Holmgren on Monday morning in what many anticipated would mark the end the coach's tenure in Cleveland.

"This decision was not easy for me, and it was one into which I put a great deal of thought," Holmgren said in a statement. "Although we have made improvements this season, my responsibility is to ensure that we establish a program that will allow this team to compete at a championship level. That will continue to be our goal in everything we do. I want to thank Eric for all of his contributions to the Cleveland Browns, and wish him and his family the best of luck in the future."
Mangini released a statement Monday expressing his gratitude to the organization.
"The experience coaching the Cleveland Browns the past two years has been tremendous," Mangini said. "I appreciate the opportunity that the Lerner family gave me. I have a deep respect for the players that I have coached the past two years and how they have made a profound difference in changing the culture -- a tougher, smarter, more competitive, selfless team that never gave up. Our goal was to build a team for long-term success. The core characteristics we were dedicated to, I believe, will help achieve that goal, and have provided a strong identity for this football team and have helped to create a positive foundation upon which the organization can continue to build.
"I feel strongly that the Cleveland Browns are headed in a very positive direction and greatly value the commitment and exceptional efforts of the coaches, players and everyone in the building that I've worked with in trying to help achieve our goals. My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed living in the Cleveland community and appreciate the support and passion of the fans. I know Mike and Tom (Heckert) are also dedicated to building a championship-caliber organization and wish them nothing but success."
La Canfora reports that if Fox were to replace Mangini, he would likely be joined by Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
If they pursue Gruden, the former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, La Canfora reports that the job may not be a perfect fit in Gruden's mind -- despite his admiration for Browns owner Randy Lerner and Holmgren -- because Cleveland lacks the right offensive personnel.

For more on the Cleveland Browns, check out the latest from our bloggers.
» Blog Blitz: Browns
In his final postgame press conference as coach of the Browns (5-11), Eric Mangini told reporters Sunday, "Thanks for being patient with me. I tried to be better this year."
Sunday's 41-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped Mangini's record with the Browns to 10-22 in two seasons.
The Browns improved in several statistical areas in 2010, but went 2-6 following surprising upsets over the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots. They were unable to sustain the momentum, dropping their last four games, including three losses to division opponents.
Players came to Mangini's defense before and after the Pittsburgh loss.
"This is my ninth year and I've never been a part of something like this," defensive end Kenyon Coleman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "This team is a family."
Josh Cribbs also spoke out for Mangini: "I feel like one man can only do so much," he said. "This is the biggest team sport there is. You're asking one man in two years to turn a football team that hasn't been winning into one of the greatest football teams. I mean, it takes some time.

"I believe in what (Mangini) stands for. It's hard to make a change. I'm tired of rebuilding."
Cribbs said that Mangini told the team after the loss that he loved and appreciated them.
"We went out there and played hard for him throughout the year," said Cribbs. "He was appreciative of the opportunity we gave him."
Mangini -- who started in the NFL as a 23-year-old ball boy with the Browns during Bill Belichick's tenure with the team -- was introduced as coach in January 2009. His team started 1-11 before reeling off four wins -- including a shocker over Pittsburgh -- to close the 2009 season, a surge that impressed the newly hired Holmgren enough to give Mangini a second year. On Monday, Holmgren decided against a third.

Dokic powers into second round

Jelena Dokic overcame a huge bout of nerves to start 2011 with a breakthrough victory at the Brisbane International, beating Russian qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova in straight sets on Monday night.
Looking for her first win in three years at the tournament, Dokic shook off stomach cramps and a shaky end to the first set to triumph 6-4 6-3.
The 26-year-old was extremely relieved after a 78-minute slugfest where she produced the groundstrokes and power for which she was renowned in her younger years.
Dokic raced to 4-1 in the first set but ran into troubles on her serve and also stumbled badly in failing to convert four set points.

Rigondeaux slams Casey

Casey was handed a surprise shot at the WBA interim belt after taking the European super-bantamweight title in November, but the Cuban holder feels it is a step too far for the Limerick man.
Rigondeaux has branded Casey one-dimensional and the two-time Olympic gold medallist is keen to prove he is a class above the challenger.
"Casey doesn't belong in the same ring as me," he told "But I admire his courage for wanting to fight me. I am world champion. Casey and all of the fans in attendance will see a true world champion in action March 19.
"If Casey thinks I'm going to Ireland to lose my world title belt, he's making a big mistake because I'm going to win, and in sensational fashion.
"He is tailor-made for me. I watched a couple of rounds of Casey's previous fights and concluded that he's a bit of a one-trick pony.
"We are as far apart in class as in residence, make no mistake about that and when the bell rings March 19th, that will certainly be evident to all."

Pacquiao vs. Mosley/ Marquez vs. Morales: Acceptance of the unacceptable

There isn’t much to get excited about in the early days of 2011; Timothy Bradley vs Devon Alexander and Fernando Montiel vs Nonito Donaire are two that spring to mind, initially. A few other fights that are 90% done deals but don’t exactly stir up much enthusiasm are Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley (in May) and Juan Manuel Marquez vs Erik Morales (possibly in April).

Both fights are seen as mismatches that are driven more by politics rather than to actually please the paying fans. Let’s take a look at both fights and weigh up the positive and negative in each. After all, we as fans soon get over the initial disappointment when such fights are first announced and eventually accept what we are given. Without too many fights to look forward to (obviously this will change as the year goes on) we may as well try and make the most of what is on offer.

Pacquiao vs. Mosley

Almost everybody protested against this fight when Bob Arum first banded around Mosley’s name as a possible opponent for Manny in 2011. And for good reason. But it just goes to show how little respect fight promoters actually have for the paying fans when such protests are completely ignored and the fight gets made anyway. I don’t know anyone that endorsed this fight, certainly from a fan’s perspective. Most experts were vocal against it happening. Surely, anyone with half a brain and a good eye for boxing couldn’t see the logic in it.

Still, Bob Arum knows best and it gets signed. What’s even more disturbing is that, despite all the controversy, fans will flock in droves to see it live and pay a fortune to watch the broadcast via Pay Per View. And I will be one of the guilty parties, because as I said above; we soon get over our initial misgivings and accept what is frankly unacceptable.
OK then, onto the fight itself. Some people appear to be rationalising this match up using the classic ‘styles make fights’ adage, but what can Mosley actually bring to the table? It’s no secret that he hasn’t really earned the right to fight the P4P #1. Let’s quickly look at his two prior performances.

The showing against Mayweather was particularly frustrating to watch. Finding success with his hard right hand in round 2, Sugar Shane looked to be on his way to a massive upset and possibly handing Floyd his first defeat. But it was not to be.
For reasons unknown to me (and reasons undisclosed by Mosley in post fight interviews) he simply clammed up and refused to follow through with anything. This enabled Mayweather to regain composure and alas the total momentum of the fight. Shane danced, jigged and feinted alot but failed to actually throw anything meaningful for the remaining 10 rounds and was completely outboxed by the superb Mayweather. It was a masterclass by Money and a disaster on the part of Mosley.

In Shane’s next outing against Sergio Mora, his dire performance against an opponent who is hard to look good against anyway, resulted in the assumption that “Mosley is shot”.

A draw in a poor fight (that many had Mora winning) after the one sided loss to Mayweather was enough for people to write Sugar Shane off. But in the hard-to-figure-out world of boxing politics, this apparently was adequate to win a shot against the formidable Pac-man.

Undefeated WBC Welterweight champ Andre Berto was considered by alot of fight fans as the most legitimate opponent for Pacquiao. In all likelihood that fight would probably be one sided too. But at least there is the sense of genuine danger against a young, unbeaten lion. And it would be a more credible win for Pac-man; a great one for his latter career resume.
It’s hard to imagine Mosley having enough to beat Pacquiao. Sure, his power is still there- as witnessed when he stunned Floyd with that right hand- but will he land it effectively? Manny isn’t that hard to hit, so in the early rounds Shane may be able to stun Pacquiao. The danger of getting sparked is there for anyone ready to mix it up with Mosley. But as much as the styles of these two might go well together, does the Mosley of 2011 really have the same combat effectiveness that his style presented several years ago? Wishful thinking has many fans predicting fireworks on May 7th, but the probability of a one sided beating is pretty high. Can Pacquiao be the first to stop Mosley? Who knows? It’s just a shame that now we will have months of debate and anticipation for what is essentially an unacceptable match up.

Marquez vs. Morales

If you’d have seen these two names together several years ago it would have got a huge reception from the fans. Morales is one of the greatest Mexican warriors to lace up the gloves and Marquez is up on the same plateau with him. Both have given so much to the sport with a good number of ‘fights of the year’ (or candidates for ‘fight of the year)’ between them.

Without a doubt, two of the most exciting pugilists in the last decade of boxing and future Hall of Famers, the word legendary is entirely appropriate for both men.

But, it’s now the year 2011 and this fight is announced? It’s hard not to feel disappointed. Morales looked definitively shot in his third and final outing against Manny Pacquiao back in 2006. Giving a great, almost swan-song like performance when he first defeated Pac-man in 2005, then suffering his first knockout in the 2006 rematch, the rubber match was only going to go one way. Who can forget that utterly defeated look Morales gave to his corner when he sat on the canvas and allowed the ref to count him out?

It was the look of someone who realised they were done and just wanted to be over with it. Fast forward to 2010 and El Terrible makes a solid but unspectacular comeback. Flashes of his old brilliance were there against undeniably sub-par opposition (relative to his former greatness of course), and have paved the way for this long awaited, but poorly timed match-up.

Marquez has looked excellent recently and is still top 3 pound for pound material at the battle-worn age of 37. Which is where this fight becomes an issue. With several dangerous opponents lurking in the sidelines for Dinamita, it is seen as a cynical money making ploy to exploit the younger but more worn Morales. With still unconquered foes in the lightweight division of which he is the lineal champion, it seems we are being cheated by this mismatch. It’s hard to complain when both men have earned the right to ‘take it easy’ in the twilight years of their career. After all, when they’ve fought through as many gruelling battles as they have for our entertainment, who can deny them a big payday to fight each other at this late stage?
Wishful thinking again; some fans believe Morales will dig into the tank for one last gutsy performance and at least give a competitive fight against his fellow countryman. Most people believe though, realistically, Marquez has too much skill for the aged Morales and will outbox him to a comfortable win, maybe a late stoppage. The style match up of these two greats on paper is brilliant......about 5 or 6 years ago. Now it’s just another unacceptable fight that we will all end up exchanging views and opinions over in the lead up to it.

Both the above fights have the slim potential to be good battles. After all, anything is possible in boxing. But, the realistic facts of the match-ups will keep us grounded until fight night, where we will watch and hope for the unexpected, once again praying that our beloved sport can surprise us and justify the money we will no doubt part with en route to seeing these fights.

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