Melbourne:All set to defend their cricket World Cup crown in less than a month, India will get their preparations underway with the aim of finding the right combination for the marquee event when they take on Australia in their opening match of the ongoing ODI tri-series here on Sunday
While this tri-series provides the perfect setting for experimentation, the need of the hour is to get a settled combination going ahead to instill confidence in the side. In the recently-concluded Test series, these same set of players did compete well despite a 0-2 score-line saying otherwise. However, the change in format cannot be negated and there will always be a few cobwebs to be cleared.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will return to international cricket after a little over two weeks since his Test retirement at the same venue, and he will have some decisions to make. The first order of business will be to make a firm choice about the opening combination.
With less than a month to go before their opening World Cup encounter against Pakistan in Adelaide, it is worrisome that India’s openers are yet unknown.
The choice of openers will have an effect on the rest of the batting order as well. If Rahane opens with Dhawan, where will Rohit fit in? Indeed, if Rohit opens the innings, will Rahane return to number four, a position he has not been comfortable with.
Or, will Virat Kohli be moved down a spot from his favoured number three, a move he experimented with while leading the side at home against Sri Lanka?
Unlike the team’s preparations ahead of any Test match, their net-sessions for an ODI do not throw up any suggestive patterns and it was the same on Saturday as well. In no particular order then, all batsmen enjoyed a decent hit in the nets including Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny.
Both of them will be hoping to play a definitive role during this tournament and increase their chances for the World Cup.
Among the bowlers, playing two spinners is definitely par for the course for India, with R Ashwin and Axar Patel slated to take up those spots. Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma too has been ruled out of this match with the management not willing to risk him at this stage in light of his left-knee niggle. It remains to be seen whether Bhuvneshwar Kumar will make the cut given his not-so-impressive showing in the Sydney Test.
He bowled well below his regular pace in that match and appeared lacking in match-fitness. The onus will be on getting him in rhythm as soon as possible, but there are also other options available.
Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni are in the tri-series 17-man squad, and have been confirmed as back-up options for the World Cup, should one of the chosen bowlers break down. And so, the team management will be keen to rely on them and manage others’ workload.
While India are placed second in the latest ICC ODI rankings, they do not have an impressive showing in this format on their past three overseas tours. They have only won three out of 12 matches played, all of them coming against an English ODI side in a state of free-fall at this moment.
In five out of six losses then, where conditions were pretty much equivalent to the upcoming World Cup, India conceded 359 and 281 in Africa, and 293, 293 and 304 against New Zealand.
The one time they batted first versus the Kiwis and lost, they couldn’t defend a 278-run target at Hamilton. In the one-off tied match at Auckland too they conceded 315 runs. This just goes to show that the shortcomings of India’s bowling aren’t restricted to the overseas Test arena alone.
Having tasted immense success against India this summer, Australia will once again be looking to make a meal out of this attack. The hosts have already taken an early march in the tournament after beating England by three wickets in Sydney on Friday.
Their batting order is replete with big-hitters who are proven names in the IPL circles and only know their opponents’ weaknesses too well. How Dhoni’s bowlers joust with the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner in this limited-overs setting – over a span atleast two matches in the next couple weeks – will set the tone for the next two months.(PTI)
Melbourne: Ignoring persistent queries on his shock Test retirement, Indian ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday sought to focus on the ongoing cricket tri-series against Australia and England, saying that his team would look to try different combinations keeping in mind next month’s World Cup here.
Dhoni stone-walled questions on his Test retirement in the build-up to India’s first ODI against Australia in the ongoing tri-series on Sunday. Returning to the scene of his last Test, the Melbourne Cric-ket Ground, the Indian ODI skipper stayed mum on his exit from the five-day arena.
“The BCCI press release (about my retirement) explained everything. You can ask questions, but it is my decision . I will answer if I want to,” he said, with a straight-face.
Dhoni also didn’t answer one other question. When asked who out of Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma will open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan, he replied, “You will have to wait and watch.”
He was quite keen to talk about other things though, primarily the tri-series as a build-up to the World Cup.
“We will look to try out different things in this tournament,” Dhoni said in the pre-match press conference.
“We have four games at least and five if we make the final. It is important for us to get the playing combination right. But at the same time we won’t push players who have a few niggles that can transform into major injuries. We will give them that extra time if needed. We will manage the workload accordingly.”
This essentially ruled out Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma out of tomorrow’s game with no word on when the former will be fully fit. Ishant, meanwhile, is still recovering from his left-knee pain for which he missed the Sydney Test as well. It brings Dhawal Kulkarni and Mohit Sharma into contention as they are part of the 17-man squad for the tri-series.
“Dhawal and Mohit will be part of our World Cup plans should any of the main bowlers get injured. That’s the major thinking behind them being here. At the same time, we have to play with the 15-man squad who also are part of the World Cup,” Dhoni said.
“If we feel it’s important we can give some extra time to a few individuals, then they will also be considered for selection” he added.
When asked about the much-debated inclusion of Stuart Binny in the World Cup squad, the skipper replied, “There are a few venues during the World Cup where it is important that we have a seaming all-rounder in the side. We are playing a couple games in Perth and another couple in New Zealand where the last time we toured there was not much purchase for the spinners.
“And that’s one area where he may come in. Irrespective of all the debate, the best seaming all-rounder of India has been picked in the World Cup side.”(PTI)
Sydney/Auckland: India’s doubles star Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna warmed up for the next week’s Australian Open in great style as they won ATP titles with their partners in Auckland and Sydney respectively.
Paes captured 55th title of his career as he triumphed at the Heineken Open with new partner Raven Klaasen while Bopanna clinched the Apia International with Canada’s Daniel Nestor.
Paes and South Africa’s Klaasen, seeded fourth, overcame a fighting combo of Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergia 7-6 (1) 6-4 in the final of the USD 519,395 in the Auckland ATP event.
They surely go into the first Grand Slam of the season as serious contenders. The new pairing has clicked in no time as they had ended runners up the Chennai Open, which was their first tournament together.
Paes, who has now won a title every year since 1997, was all praise for his new partner. “The best part about Raven is that he’s a student of life, he’s a student of the game and the amount he’s improved in the last 14 days. Every day we’ve gotten a better understand of our team, a better understand of the way we play and how we play against different teams,” Paes said.
“We’re really happy, but at the end of the day, it’s a long season. We keep each other happy. We’ve got to take it to them every day that we play.”
Meanwhile in Sydney, The third-seed team of Bopanna and Nestor defeated second seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-4 7-6(5) in one hour and 26 minutes, converting three of their seven break point chances and winning 91 per cent of their first serve points.
“Since we started together this year, we’ve been working hard. Playing with a guy like Danny, with so much experience, I think it really helps my game. I just have to focus on my side of the court and that makes it much easier,” Bopanna said.
“In these big matches, big moments, he keeps me relaxed and I can play my best tennis. That has helped us this week and I hope we can continue like that.”
It was a great week for Indian tennis as Sania Mirza and her American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands had won the Apia International on Friday. (PTI)
Undated:Boxing great Muhammad Ali was released from a hospital after treatment for a severe urinary tract infection, Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell said.
Ali, who has Parkinson’s disease, was released from the undisclosed hospital in time to celebrate his 73rd birthday on Saturday, Gunnell said. He had been admitted to the hospital earlier this week as follow-up to a problem that surfaced last month.
‘He’s home and resting and glad to be out of the hospital,’ Gunnell said, adding that the Ali family ‘greatly appreciates the outpouring of support and continued well wishes.’
Ali was first admitted on December 20 with what was believed to be a mild case of pneumonia. Doctors, however, later determined he was actually suffering from a urinary tract infection, Gunnell said yesterday.
Ali, who is nicknamed ‘The Greatest’ and the ‘Louisville Lip,’ retired from boxing in 1981 with a 56-5 record. (REUTERS)
Margao:Salgaocar FC rallied in the second half to hold Pune FC to a 1-1 draw in the opening encounter of the I-League football tournament, here on Saturday.
Pune FC, who dominated the first half took the lead in the 44th minute, through Anthony D’Souza. But Salgaocar fought back in the second half to restore parity in the 80th minute through substiute Gilbert Oliveira.
Pune FC captain and India international Izumi Arata, who created a lot of chances for his team was chosen as ‘Player of the Match’. Pune FC looked more thrustful in their attack as they pressed hard for an early goal but as luck would have it found their sixth minute strike via Anthony D’Souza’s free-kick being disallowed by referee O P Thakur.The ball went inside the net after deflection off Salgaocar defender Gurjinder Singh but Thakur decided to award a penalty to Pune FC as he ruled that the defender has handled the ball.Salgaocar turned out to be the beneficiary as Ryuji Sueoka’s shot saw a diving Subrata Paul tip it towards upright as the score remained goalless.
Japanese born Indian Izumi, who combined well along with Sueoka and D’Souza kept the attack going through the build ups from wide left. At the stroke of half-time, D’Souza intercepted a clearance from defender Francis Kasonde as he sprinted down on the left to unleash an angular left footer that found the back of the net.
Salgaocar found the going tough save Douhou Pierre’s long ranger that lacked power to trouble rival keeper Amrinder Singh, who neatly collected the ball. Pune FC continued to enjoy the early ball possession in the second session but lacked the sting to score.
On the other match Goa’s Dempo SC earned their first ever point while playing against Bengaluru FC, following a goalless draw in the Hero I-League, which kicked off at Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.
For the fist time, Dempo drew with defending I-League Champions and earned their first point against them. Both teams – Bengaluru and Dempo – earned one point each and are placed third and fourth places on points table, respectively.
Bengaluru, who have never lost to the Goan club in the previous three matches, were jaded in the first half, looking tired following a hectic Indian Super League and Federation Cup. Even the Goan Club players looked tired but they enjoyed nearly 70 per cent of the ball possession and made six attempts at the goal in the first 36 minutes.
However, Bengaluru had three good chances including a penalty, which Chhetri missed thanks to a weak shot which was easily put away by Dempo goalkeeper L. Kattimani, the star player of the day.(PTI)
Karachi: Pakistan’s most capped player Inzamam-ul-Haq wants to see the national team create history in the forthcoming Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand by defeating arch-rivals India in the opening match in Adelaide.
“Throughout my career we beat India in many matches but for some reason we never managed to get the better of them in World Cup matches and it remains a disappointment for me,” he said on Saturday. “I hope that this Pakistan team can beat India in a World Cup game,” Inzamam said at the launching of a cricket academy in Lahore named after him.
The academy has been launched as the Inzamam-ul-Haq academy but in reality it is owned by a Multan-based NGO which requested Inzamam to get involved in the academy and put his name to it.
“Even the ground to be used by the academy in Lahore is owned by the regional cricket body and will be used on hire basis,” one source said.
Inzamam who appeared in 120 Tests and 378 one-day internationals taking part in five World Cup campaigns one as captain in 2007 said he was hopeful the national would do well in the coming event.
“The pressures of playing in the World Cup are different but it was because we coped with them in 1992 under Imran Khan’s guidance and influence that we won the Cup,” he recalled. Inzamam also noted that while Pakistan would miss the services of Saeed Ajmal in the coming mega event but the other players needed to step in and put up their hands.
“We also lost Waqar before the 92’ World Cup and we had some fitness issues but under Imran’s captaincy the others filled in the gap and that is what is required in this event as well.” Inzamam said the key to doing well in a World Cup was collective efforts and players backing each other up.
“I think it is very important to play as a complete unit and the players are fortunate to have seasoned campaigners like Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed, Moin Khan and Grant Flower to guide them,” Inzamam said. (PTI)
BRISBANE: South Korea upset Australia 1-0 at the Asian Cup on Saturday to top the Group A standings and secure a potentially easier path to the final while leaving the host nation facing a treacherous route.
Striker Lee Jeong-hyeop scored a perfectly-executed goal in the first half to give his team a surprise lead then the Koreans held on against a wave of Australian attacks to clinch the victory.
The win meant South Korea finished at the top of the Group A standings with three wins and will play either Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals.
As Group A runners-up, Australia will play the Group B winners China with the defending champions Japan lurking as a possible semi-finalist.
The Australians dominated possession and territory but paid a high price for squandering their best chances and resting some of their key players, including star striker Tim Cahill, who only came on for the last 20 minutes when the Socceroos were desperate for an equaliser.
The Korean goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon pulled off a series of sharp saves to keep his team ahead and the visitors were unlucky not to grab a second on the counterattack as they raised hopes of winning their first Asian Cup since 1960.
Lee, who was recalled to the starting lineup after missing South Korea’s previous group win over Kuwait, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when he got his foot on to a perfectly angled cross from his team mate Lee Keun-ho.
The glance was just enough to divert the ball into the net at the far post, evading the diving Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
With both teams already assured of a place in the quarterfinals, the two regional powerhouses initially adopted a cautious approach, on a hot and humid evening at Brisbane’s Lang Park that was invaded by thousands of moths.
The match began in slightly bizarre circumstances when thousands of moths descended onto the stadium field and grandstands, forcing staff to vacuum some of the benches where players and officials were trying to sit.
But once the Koreans scored, the match opened up as both teams ran themselves to the point of exhaustion.
Tomi Juric forced the South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon to make a sharp save at the near post after an attacking run while James Troisi just missed the target after he fooled the Korean defence in the box and turned quickly to shoot.
The Australians raised the tempo in the second half, starving South Korea of possession and pressing for an equaliser.
Juric missed another chance shortly after the re-start when he shot over the bar from close range after combining with Ivan Franjic.
Nathan Burns almost scored when he weaved his way past two defenders and into the box only to see his shot saved.
Burns was immediately replaced in a double substitution which saw Cahill and Robbie Kruse introduced with 20 minutes remaining.
Kruse was given golden chance to equalise three minutes from the end when he found himself free in the box but couldn’t beat Kim Jin-hyeon one on one.
In the other Group A match, being played at the same time in Newcastle, Oman beat Kuwait 1-0 to finish third in the group, courtesy of a 69th minute header from Abdul Aziz Al-Maqbal.
Neither team had the chance to advance after losing their first two matches.(AFP)
UNDATED:Persistent rain washed out the third one-day international between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday after less than 30 overs of the hosts’ innings.
New Zealand had been well-placed at 145 for three in the 29th over in the game that had already been reduced to 43 overs due to two previous rain delays.
Opener Martin Guptill had shaken off a poor run of form at the international level with a confidence-boosting 66 not out from 78 balls, before the rain forced them off the field for the final time.
Rain then forced the players off for the final time.(Reuters)
MILAN: AC Milan has completed the signing of Suso from Liverpool, with the 21-year-old Spanish midfielder agreeing a deal until 2019.
Suso tweeted he was “very happy to become a Milan player. Really happy to play for a very important club. Starting a new history there.”
Suso, who spent last season on loan in Spain’s La Liga with Almeria, signed from Cadiz in 2010 but made just 21 appearances for Liverpool. He scored once – in his only appearance this season against Middlesbrough in the league cup.
He was then sidelined with injury and only recently returned to training. Suso was expected to sign for Milan when his contract expired this summer, but the young Spaniard reportedly went to Italy on his day off last Sunday for a medical without permission.(AFP)
Tura, Jan 17: The use of the Songsak-Mendipathar road in East and North Garo Hills by coal trucks has forced two NGOs of Rongjeng to voice protest against the same on Saturday. The trucks which ply along the route mainly at night are alleged to be in complete violation of the guidelines set by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and both NGOs have sought the immediate intervention of the District Administration into the matter.
The All Achik Youth Forum (AAYF), Rongjeng unit along with the NH62 Save Mission Committee also alleged that the trucks are using the route without the necessary forms, after they set off from both West Khasi Hills (WKH) and South Garo Hills (SGH).
GUWAHATI, Jan 17: The All India Congress Committee (AICC) had given the green signal to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to reshuffle his cabinet before January 21, a top official of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) revealed on Saturday.
The Assam CM had instructed his cabinet ministers to attend a crucial meeting on January 19 at his government residence in Koinadhara outskirts of Guwahati in this regard.
SHILLONG, Jan 16: In the backdrop of the Meghalaya High Court ruling prohibiting local headmen in the state from issuing No Objection Certificates (NOCs) and ‘interfering with administration’, the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya (GCCM) on Friday sought the opinion of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in this judgement.
In a letter to the NCST chairman, Rameshwar Oraon, the chairman of the GCCM, John F Kharshiing wrote, ‘We sincerely request the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to kindly provide its opinion as to the observations of Justice S R Sen, High Court of Meghalaya’.
SHILLONG, Jan 16: The All Meghalaya Contractor & Supplier Association (AMCSA) on Friday said that it will take the State Income Tax Department to court even as it alleged that the latter had directed the Scheduled Tribe contractors to pay for applying for Exemption Certificates (ECs).
“We have decided to seek the intervention of the Court into the matter relating to the direction of the department to pay for the Exemption Certificate,” AMCSA general secretary BL Nongbri said in a statement issued here on Friday.
SHILLONG, Jan 16: The Council of Nokmas – Garo Hills Districts (CoN-GHD) on Friday decided to propose that the State Government consider the constitution of Regional Councils in all the Laskar- Elaka in the proposed amendments to the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
“We propose the constitution of one Regional Council in every Laskar-Elaka in line with the Garo Hills Districts (Constitution of Village Councils) Act 1958,” CoN general secretary Charles G Momin said at a press conference held in the city.
Informing that there are a total of 80 Laskar Elakas having around 1400 nokmas, he said,”Out of 1400, 1300 nokmas are from the A’king land.”
SHILLONG, Jan 15: Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) on Thursday said that it will take action against any tribal chief who violates the order of the Council by issuing fresh trading licenses.
The decision of the Council came in the wake of the violation by the Syiem of Hima Mylliem who had continued to issue fresh No Objection Certificates (NOCs) despite the Council’s order.
It may be mentioned here, the KHADC has issued a notice on October 2013, directing all Himas not to issue fresh NOCs to non-tribalssince the Council has decided to stop issuing of fresh trading licenses.
SHILLONG, Jan 15: Opposition political parties in Meghalaya on Thursday demanded the State government to officially provide its views as well as the views already submitted by the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) earlier in 2013, on the proposed amendments to the Sixth Schedule of Constitution of India.
“We have decided to write to the state government tomorrow (Friday) requesting it to provide its views and also the views of all the ADCs on the issue,” UDP general secretary AF Dkhar told newsmen after an all party meeting held on Thursday.
SHILLONG, Jan 13: India and Bangladesh on Tuesday agreed to share the list of convicted persons who are lingering in the jails on both sides of the border in spite of their jail terms having been completed so that these convicts can be repatriated.
“The list of the convicted persons will be shared in advance by both sides in order to facilitate their repatriation,” the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of East Khasi Hills (EKH) district, Sanjay Goyal said at the sidelines of the Bilateral Conference between India and Bangladesh which drew to a close on Tuesday in the city.
SHILLONG, Jan 13: The Meghalaya government on Tuesday submitted a proposal to the Bangladesh Government requesting the immediate reduction of its mobile tower’s signals to curb the use of Bangladesh mobile services by miscreants and militants operating in the state.
Addressing newsmen at the sidelines of the concluding day of the Bilateral Conference held between Meghalaya (India) and Bangladesh on Tuesday, the Deputy Commissioner (DC), East Khasi Hills (EKH), Sanjay Goyal said, “The proposal submitted here was in view of the use of Bangladesh Sim-Cards by miscreants and militants.”
SHILLONG, Jan 13: A demand was raised on Tuesday by the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) that a Regional Council be immediately constituted under the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) to embody the existing traditional institutions.
After a meeting with the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the KHADC, Adelbert Nongrum which was held on Tuesday, the general secretary of HNYF, Sadon Blah said that this Regional Body is of prime importance in light of the recent ruling of the Meghalaya High Court which, according to him, “Has reduced our old aged practice of grassroots and party less democracy such as the Dorbar Hima, Dorbar Raid and Dorbar Shnong into total insignificance.”
SHILLONG, Jan 13: The Syiem of Hima Khyrim, Balajied Singh Syiem has observed that Benami Transaction Prohibition Act, 1980, is invalid as it has failed to suggest that it is illegal or harmful to carry out legitimate business transactions between parties of any kind (whether tribal or non – tribal).
In a letter addressed to the Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Rowell Lyngdoh on Monday, Syiem said that the Act is rendered invalid by this definition because ‘to prohibit a thing that does not harm is illogical’