Absence of Pakistan players from IPL disappointing, says Shahryar Khan

Published on: Tuesday, 30 September 2014 //
Lahore-Lions_bcci_m PCB chairman Shahryar Khan said Lahore Lions’s performance has played a key role in highlighting Pakistan cricket in India. (Source: BCCI)

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shahryar Khan believes the Lahore Lions’ successful participation in the ongoing Champions League Twenty20 will open the Indian Premier League doors for the country’s players.

Khan said he was satisfied with the performance of the Lahore Lions team.

“But apart from performances the Lahore Lions team has played a big role in highlighting Pakistan cricket in India in the last two weeks,” Khan said on Geo Super channel.

He pointed out that the Lahore team had left a positive image of Pakistan cricket among the Indians.

“Until now the absence of our players from the IPL is very disappointing but we are trying our best to improve bilateral cricket ties with India,” he said.

Khan is also scheduled to leave for India on October 3 as a special emissary of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for some back channel diplomacy. After India, he will visit Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in official capacity as PCB Chairman.

Khan said Pakistan was keen to restore and have normal relations with the Indian board.

“We are willing to host the Indians at any neutral venue selected with mutual cooperation of both boards. But we want the restoration of bilateral cricket series as soon as possible,” he said.

The PCB chief said while Pakistan had struggled to launch its own T20 franchised league but it was unfair to compare it with the IPL.

“Indian cricket has moved well ahead of us organisation and financial wise and right now no other T20 event compares with the IPL,” Khan added.

Francesco Totti secures AS Roma draw at Manchester City

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(Source: ) AS Roma’s Francesco Totti celebrates the equaliser against Manchester City on Tuesday. (Source: Reuters )

Francesco Totti became the oldest scorer in European club competition history when he netted after 24 minutes to give AS Roma a 1-1 draw at Manchester City in their Champions League Group E match at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

Totti, who turned 38 on Saturday, chipped the ball over goalkeeper Joe Hart for his landmark goal which resulted in City failing to win their first home match in the competition for the fourth successive season.

City went ahead in the fourth minute when their former defender Maicon put his arm around Sergio Aguero and pulled him down leaving referee Bjorn Kuipers no alternative but to award the penalty which the Argentine swept home, sending Roma’s stand-in keeper Lukasz Skorupski the wrong way.

But they failed to build on that early advantage and although they played better in the second half when James Milner and Frank Lampard came on as substitutes, impressive Roma, who failed to win for the first time in seven matches this season, were worth their point.

One subplot saw Lampard, who came on for the last 33 minutes, face his old Chelsea team mate Ashley Cole, now at Roma.

Cole, playing his first match in England since moving to Italy in the close-season, told ITV Sport: “It was a good performance after going down so early in the game, we showed a lot of character, determination and belief and maybe should have won. We can be proud of ourselves today.”

City’s Milner was less happy.

“We never got up to speed. We didn’t do enough to win the game. We never got going in the first half, we got going a bit in the second half and maybe Lamps (Lampard) coming on helped a bit, we might have nicked it at the end, but didn’t.”

Roma, who have won all five of their Serie A games since the start of the season and beat CSKA Moscow 5-1 at home in their opening Champions League match two weeks ago, played some crisp, sharp football after falling behind, and were unlucky not to be on level terms almost immediately.

A quick break ended with Maicon, who began the move marauding down the right flank, smashing his angled shot against the bar.

Gervinho almost scored from a similar position at the end of the first half, but Hart did well to save his powerful shot.

City, third in the Premier League, needed a result after losing their Group E opener 1-0 at Bayern Munich, but were largely second best in the first half.

They cancelled out Roma’s creativity after the restart, but failed to find the breakthrough, although Lampard and their late substitute Stevan Jovetic had clear chances in the closing stages.

The draw left Bayern Munich, who won 1-0 in Moscow, top with six points, followed by Roma on four, City on one and CSKA bottom with no points.

The next matches are in three weeks when City visit CSKA and Roma host Bayern.

Nemanja Matic heads Chelsea to win

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Sporting Lisbon's goalkeeper Rui Patricio saves a shot from Chelsea's Andre Schurrle during their Champions League Group G soccer(Source: Reuters) Sporting Lisbon’s goalkeeper Rui Patricio saves a shot from Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle during their Champions League Group soccer match. (Source: Reuters)

Nemanja Matic’s header ended Sporting’s proud four-year unbeaten home run in Europe as Chelsea seized control of Champions League Group G with a 1-0 victory in Lisbon on Tuesday.

Booed by the home fans throughout, Matic, who used to play for Sporting’s bitter rivals Benfica, nodded in Cesc Fabregas’s inswinging free kick at the back post after 34 minutes.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, returning to Sporting two decades after starting his coaching career there as an interpreter, could have enjoyed a more comfortable night if not for an impressive display from home keeper Rui Patricio.

The Sporting captain denied prolific Chelsea striker Diego Costa, Andre Schuerrle and Oscar with a string of important saves but his heroics were in vain.

Victory took Chelsea to the top of the table on four points after Schalke 04 were held to a surprise 1-1 draw at home to Slovenian side Maribor.

“We had so many chances to kill it off, but it was one of those nights when it wouldn’t go in and thankfully Nemanja Matic scored,” Chelsea captain John Terry, who made his 100th appearance in the Champions League, told Sky Sports.

“We lost our first group game last year and went on to win the group. We had that in mind and knew we needed to win – we’ve put ourselves top of the group and in control again.”

“I’m very proud (to make my 100th appearance) – not many players have achieved that. I’ve had a great and successful career and long may it continue. I’m feeling great at the moment,” the former England skipper added.

After the disappointing home draw against Schalke 04 two weeks ago, Mourinho said he would “risk” playing striker Costa, who has been suffering with hamstring problems, in the hope that his side could secure a much-needed win.

The gamble nearly offered an instant pay-off when Costa beat the offside trap to run clear clear on Sporting’s goal but Patricio blocked well with an outstretched leg.

Patrico came to his side’s rescue again after 15 minutes when Schuerrle tried to dribble round him.

Schuerrle passed up an even better chance when he ran on to an Eden Hazard’s pull back but placed his shot wide.

Chelsea finally found a way past the inspired keeper shortly afterwards when Matic’s looping header back across goal nestled in the net.

Sporting enjoyed more possession in the second half with winger Nani, on loan from Manchester United, seeing plenty of the ball in dangerous areas.

However, it was Chelsea who threatened on the counter-attack with Oscar running clear but Patricio again blocked.

Buoyed by that reprieve, the home side nearly equalised as Nani got on the end of a flowing move but he could only hit his shot into the side netting.

A frenetic end to the match saw Patricio block more one-on-one chances from Costa and substitute Mohamed Salah but Fredy Montero nearly snatched a draw for the hosts in the last minute but planted his header wide as Sporting’s 16-match unbeaten run in Europe came to an end.

No Zlatan Ibrahimovic no problem as Paris St Germain stun Barcelona at home

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(Source: AP) PSG’s David Luiz takes on Barcelona’s defence during their Champions League group encounter in Paris on Tuesday. (Source: AP)

Paris St Germain made light of the absent Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a sub-standard start to the season to claim a 3-2 Champions League victory over Barcelona on Tuesday.

Barca had not conceded a goal this season but David Luiz, Marco Verrati and Blaise Matuidi all punctured their defence to give the French champions three points.

Luiz put the home side ahead in the 10th minute only for Lionel Messi to equalise two minutes later at the end of a sharp move before Verrati’s 26th-minute header put PSG in front again.

Matuidi caught the Barca defence snoozing again early in the second half and although Neymar pulled one back with a fine goal almost immediately PSG held firm.

PSG lead Group F with four points, with Barca on three and Ajax Amsterdam third two points after drawing 1-1 with APOEL.

With Jay Z, Beyonce and David Beckham watching from the stands on an electric night at the Parc des Princes, PSG looked transformed from the side that had drawn six of their opening nine games of the season.

They tore into a Barca side that had kept clean sheets in their first seven games in all competitions, making the Catalans look fragile at the back.

Talisman Ibrahimovic was ruled out of the tie with a heel injury, but PSG made up for his absence with Javier Pastore’s brilliance and Verratti’s grit.

PSG were rewarded for their early aggression when Luiz scored with a low shot on the turn from a Lucas free kick.

Barca quickly recovered from the shock of conceding their first goal of the season with Messi sweeping the ball past Salvatore Sirigu after a fine one-two with Andres Iniesta, who was making his 100th Champions Leaque appearance.

Edinson Cavani came close to making it 2-1 for PSG but his rising shot from outside the box sailed just high.

In an entertaining first half, the visitors also had a clear chance when Messi’s snap shot from inside the area was parried away by Sirigu in spectacular fashion.

Neymar was inches away from converting Messi’s brilliant chip with a first-time lob but it went just wide.

It was Barca, however, who cracked again when an unmarked Verratti headed home from Thiago Motta’s corner.

Matuidi made it 3-1 nine minutes into the second half, beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen from close range after escaping Daniel Alves at the far post.

On a high-octane night Neymar slotted a delightful shot in off the far post two minutes later but the expected Barca onslaught never really materialised.

Not even the 69th-minute introduction of Xavi, on for Ivan Rakitic, for a record 143rd appearance in the Champions League could earn Barca an equaliser.

Xavi surpassed the previous record he held with former Real Madrid and Schalke 04 striker Raul.

Cricket-Bracewell returns to NZ test team for Pakistan series

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WELLINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - All-rounder Doug Bracewell has earned a recall to the New Zealand test squad for their series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates after being dumped from the team for disciplinary issues earlier this year.

Vinoo Mankad matches for Central Zone postponed

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Due to the ongoing issue with the barred Rajasthan Cricket Association, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to postpone the Central Zone fixtures of the Vinoo Mankad Trophy. All other affiliate associations have been informed about the move.

The annual under-19 tournament will kick off as planned on October 5 in the remaining four zones. A decision on Central Zone’s fixtures will be taken by the board once the RCA verdict is delivered by the court. A PIL has been filed in Rajasthan by its state cricketers and matter will be looked into on October 1.

“We don’t know what will happen in the court. The tournament is scheduled to start in few days and if the court gives a ruling in favour of RCA then their team will have to be included. So that is why we have postponed only Central Zone games in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy,” a top BCCI official said.


The BCCI had omitted RCA from participating in all their annual fixtures after the state association was suspended in May after electing former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who was banned by the BCCI, as their president. This caused widespread uncertainty over the immediate future of Rajasthan’s cricketers.

While Rajasthan may be the cause, the postponement has affected other Central Zone teams, such as Uttar Pradesh as well.

UP’s under-19 coach Mushi Raja said that while there is still doubt over when their campaign begins, the teams will be informed sooner rather than later.

“By Wednesday we will know just when our campaign is to begin and who we will be playing. As of now, we are yet to get dates for our games in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy,” Raja said.

In Incheon, India almost in Rio

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When Michael Nobbs picked Akashdeep Singh for the Champions Trophy two years ago, he had little idea about the player. The only thing he knew was that the Ludhiana lad was the quickest player of the lot, and also the youngest. But in the aftermath of Olympics debacle, Nobbs had to blood some fresh legs into the team and Akashdeep perfectly fitted into the scheme of things. It was a plunge into darkness. But Nobbs was secretly confident.

Nearly two years after making his debut and displaying indifferent form, Akashdeep finally rose to the occasion on Tuesday. The 20-year-old scored a spectacular goal despite being under pressure from two South Korean defenders to lead India into the final of the Asian Games. The 1-0 win at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium helped India reach their first final since the Busan Games.

Twelve years ago, India beat South Korea 4-3. However, to win their first Asiad gold since the 1998 Games, India will have to overcome defending champions Pakistan, whom they lost to in the group stage encounter. Pakistan beat Malaysia 6-5 via tie-breakers in a repeat of last year’s final.

India weren’t convincing against the Koreans. Chief coach Terry Walsh spoke about the ‘processes’ and how the team was growing as the tournament progressed. But the style they adopted was effective. As is the case often, India did not move up in droves while attacking. Perhaps, Walsh was wary of the speed at which Korea break.

Instead, India played a patient game. They were by far the dominant side over the entire 60 minutes and controlled the proceedings from the word go. The Koreans played catch-up hockey throughout the match but failed to break the resolute Indian defence. There was hardly any clear scoring opportunity for the Koreans, whereas India threatened the opponent’s goal throughout the encounter.

Dharamvir’s mistake

Dharamvir Singh missed a sitter in the fifth minute as he overran a pass from SV Sunil with Korean goalkeeper Myungho Lee to beat. Three minutes into the second quarter, India earned two back-to-back penalty corners but Lee made fantastic saves to his right to deny VR Raghunath a goal.

After a goalless half time, India kept up the pressure and mounted numerous raids on the Korean citadel only to be disappointed by the misfiring forward line.

While Akashdeep’s goal was the high point, Walsh would be worried about the form of his other forwards. Ramandeep Singh and Gurvinder Singh Chandi once again proved to be a big let downs. They duo either kept mistiming their runs or ran into wrong spaces as the attacks formulated by the lively midfield were wasted. Once again, Gurbaj Singh was brilliant on the right wing, constantly making darting runs into the Korean half. On the opposite flank and through the middle, SV Sunil did the same.

Stretched, the Koreans started leaving plenty of space in the midfield. And Indians took advantage of it in the 44th minute. Ramandeep slid in a pass from centre toward Akashdeep, who was standing near the top of the ‘D’. With his back facing the goal, and nowhere else to go, Akashdeep showed presence of mind to slap the ball hard, into the ground. The goalkeeper, surprised at the Indian striker’s decision to shoot, was unsighted and in no position to make the save.

A goal up, India defended as if their lives depended on it. The defence, which has come under plenty of scrutiny after a habit of breaking down under pressure, had a fantastic outing. Birendra Lakra, Raghunath, Manpreet Singh and Rupinderpal Singh stood like a rock to thwart any danger to their goal.

Tense finish

Trailing by a goal, the Koreans mounted attacks on the Indian goal in the last quarter of the match but failed to break the stubborn Indian defence. It was a tense last five minutes of the match for the Indians as they were forced to fall back and defend. Sardar Singh barked out instructions, urging his teammates to slow things down and play against the clock.

Eventually, they held out. “We knew they would come all out at us. Korea had nothing to lose. But we implemented our game-plan of scoring a goal and defending well. We’re glad we pulled it off,” Sardar said.

Women’s team eye bronze

The gold medal already out of their grasp, Indian women’s hockey team will be eyeing to return at least with a bronze when they take on Japan, in what can be regarded as a revenge encounter, in the third-fourth place play-off on Wednesday.

The Indian eves dished out a spirited display before losing 1-3 to last edition’s silver medallist Korea in the semifinal on Monday. — PTI

Vietnam’s Bang demolished by her idol Mary

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Bang Le Thi looked thrilled by merely being in the same ring as Mary Kom. She was just 10 when Mary won her first world title in 2002. By the time she picked up the gloves for the first time in 2007, Mary had added two more titles to her kitty along with two Asian Championships gold.

At her boxing club near Hanoi, Thi would frequently hear her fellow boxers talk about ‘some Indian girl.’ Initially, she wouldn’t know why they were so preoccupied with a boxer none of them had faced. But when she saw Mary at the Asian Indoor Championships that were held her Hanoi in 2009, Thi realised why her teammates were so obsessed with Mary. “She won the gold medal and was so amazing,” Thi recalls.

On Tuesday, as the 22-year-old Vietnamese stood toe-to-toe with one of her idols, she was overwhelmed. Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t quite impress Mary in their first meeting inside the ring. “I wanted to show her that I can fight as well as her but I froze. Playing against her was an honour,” Thi adds.

Mary instead gave her a master class in boxing, comfortably beating her with a unanimous 3-0 verdict at the Seonhak Gymnasium here. Making a comeback after a prolonged absence from the international scene, the 31-year-old mother of three looked at ease against her inexperienced opponent.

Mary has shown little signs of rustiness so far in this campaign. The five-time world champion defeated Haijuan Si of China, her toughest opponent yet, without breaking much sweat. Against her lesser-known Vietnamese opponent, Mary further enhanced the odds of her winning the gold medal in Wednesday’s final.

While her speed and guile was just too much to handle for Thi to handle, Mary peppered multiple combination punches and didn’t give her opponent anytime to gain a foothold. Le went for broke in the fourth and final round and landed few punches but with the Indian, having already won the previous three rounds there was very little the Vietnamese could do.

After her bout, Mary went straight into the athletes’ lounge to watch her state-mate Sarita Devi’s semifinal against South Korea’s Jina Park. However, the controversial decision sapped the spirits of the Indian camp. “It is very annoying. As athletes, all we ask for is fairness. Everyone saw today that whatever happened with Sarita was not good,” Mary later said. She will take on Kazakhstan’s powerful Zhaina Shekerbekova in the final on Wednesday. “I feel good. Just need some time for recovery but I am in good shape,” Mary said.

Vikas assured bronze

The other two women boxers, Sarita and Pooja Rani settled for bronze after being defeated in their respective semifinals. Meanwhile, Satish Kumar reached the semifinals along with Vikas Krishan, assuring India a medal in the superheavy weight category and middleweight categories after winning their respective quarterfinals. Kumar beat Jordan’s Hussein Eishaish 2-1 by a split decision. Kumar will take on Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dycho in the last four match on Thursday. Earlier, Shiva Thapa lost his quarter-final bout of the bantamweight category, going down to Philippines’ Mazrio Fernandez 0-3.

As Sarita borrows to pay $500 as fee for lodging protest, IOA officials look other way

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The difference couldn’t be starker. Barely 15 minutes after Mongolian boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayar was controversially ousted from the men’s bantamweight category, their entire contingent decided to take the International Boxing Association (AIBA) head on.

Like Sarita Devi, Nyambayar lost to a South Korean opponent after a controversial decision. While Nyambayar was the winner, at least according to a large number of those who watched the bout. The judges felt otherwise. They had awarded the bout to Sangmyeong Ham. Immediately, the Mongolian officials swung into action. Their chef de mission, Badmaanyambu Baterdene reached the venue within minutes, took up the issue with the organisers and led the protest.

While the Mongolian officials were swift to act, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) office-bearers chose not to involve themselves in Sarita’s case. Sarita did not even have the $500 required to lodge a protest with AIBA. Her husband had to depend on Sarita’s coach Lenin Meitei and an Indian journalist to pay the amount.

The boxer, who felt she was a victim of a ‘pre-determined’ bout, waited for almost an hour for assistance as she and her husband Thoiba Singh tried to work out a way to submit an official protest. The coaches, who were busy attending the other boxers whose bouts were lined up, could not tend to their needs. In the end, they had to fend for themselves.

Although senior IOA officials, including secretary general Rajeev Mehta and deputy chef de mission Kuldeep Vats, were present at the venue, none offered assistance. Mehta, instead, asked a couple of journalists and Sarita herself as to why there was a delay in lodging the protest, unaware of the protocols and procedures himself. “Don’t worry, it will be fine,” he then told her. Even Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) secretary general Randhir Singh decided to steer clear from the issue. He and Vats left the venue soon after Sarita’s bout.

Phelps arrested for drunk driving

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Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol on Tuesday. Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, was also charged with speeding and crossing double lane lines in the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore, the Maryland Transportation Authority said. An MTA police officer was using radar about 1:40 a.m.

when Phelps’ white Land Rover came through at 84 mph (135 kph) in a 45-mph (72-kph) zone, the transportation authority said in a statement. The officer stopped the 29-year-old just beyond the tunnel’s toll plaza. “Mr. Phelps was identified as the driver by his driver’s license and appeared to be under the influence,’’ the statement said. “He was unable to perform satisfactorily a series of standard field sobriety tests.’’ The statement said Phelps was cooperative throughout the process, even while being arrested.

The other diego returns

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Atletico Madrid’s Champions League game at home to Juventus on Wednesday will be a chance for the Spanish champions to prove they have the firepower to challenge in Europe again this season.

Diego Costa, top scorer for Atletico last term when they reached the final of the continent’s elite club competition, has departed for Chelsea and a lack of recent goals had prompted murmurs that the side will struggle without the Brazil-born Spain striker.

Saturday’s thumping 4-0 La Liga win at home to Sevilla appeared to suggest otherwise, although the Juve defence, which has yet to concede a goal in five Serie A games this season, will be a far tougher test than the Andalusians’ more porous back line.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who returns to the touchline after serving a one-match ban against Olympiakos in the Champions League opener, singled out his midfielders as one reason why they were able to see off Sevilla so comfortably at the weekend and praised the team for their work rate, one of the keys to their surprise success in 2013-14.

The Juve connection

A five-man midfield of Saul, Gabi, Koke, Arda Turan and Tiago — who played for Juve from 2007-10 — had given the team the stability it had perhaps been lacking in previous games, Simeone added.

“That gave us solidity in our play, intensity and helped us win the ball back,” the Argentine told a news conference. “It was positive that we managed 90 very good minutes, above all for the work done. Although it’s also true that in football if you are efficient in front of goal everything is easier.”

The player Atletico bought to replace Costa, Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic, broke his nose in the 3-2 Group A defeat at Olymp iakos Piraeus on Champions League matchday one and needed surgery.

He will have to wear a striking black protective mask for the foreseeable future and played just over 70 minutes of Saturday’s game at the Calderon without scoring on his return to action. Simeone knows Juve well from his eight seasons playing in Serie A, when he had stints at Pisa, Inter Milan and Lazio.

The former Argentina captain helped Juve win the title in 2002 when he scored for Lazio in a 4-2 win against Inter that handed the Bianconeri the title.

Juve, who won their opening Group A game at home to Malmo 2-0, have several players familiar with playing at the Calderon, including former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata and former Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente.

Morata spent two years in Atletico’s youth academy and was a ballboy at the Calderon before joining Real and moved on to Juve at the end of last season.

Some injuries

Recently back from a knee injury, he struck his first goal for the club in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Atalanta. “The injury was tough, a setback immediately after arriving at the club,” Morata told reporters. “Any team we play motivates me and makes me want to get out on the pitch.”

Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo and his Italy team mate Andrea Barzagli, a defender, have yet to play this season due to hip and Achilles injuries respectively.

Arsenal look to put campaign back on track

London: It is almost a given that Arsenal reach the Champions League knockout stages but their path to the last 16 could become “problematic” if they fail to beat Galatasaray on Wednesday.

That was the stark warning from midfielder Santi Cazorla ahead of the clash with the Turkish side at the Emirates where Arsenal will attempt to kickstart their Euro campaign after failing to turn up in Dortmund two weeks ago.

“It was a bad game (in Dortmund),” Cazorla told Arsenal’s website. “Now we are fully aware that we are almost obliged to win the next Champions League game because there may be problematic times for us if we don’t so we’d better win.

“It’s true that Arsenal have a great record in the group stage. However, all that history doesn’t count now.”

Arsenal lost only 2-0 in Dortmund after being comprehensively outplayed for 90 minutes by the Bundesliga side.

A no-win record

Although it’s a home match against Galatasaray, who have never beaten an English side away, things may not be quite that simple. Wenger’s squad is at full-stretch after a rash of injuries, the most recent of which came in Saturday’s 1-1 derby draw with Spurs when Michel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey were both ruled out of Wednesday’s match.

With Jack Wilshere also a doubt, right back Mathieu Debuchy out for three months and Theo Walcott still not ready to return from a cruciate ligament injury, Arsenal will not be at full strength, far from it in fact.

CLT20 2014: Mitchell Marsh’s late charge knocks out Lahore Lions

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Brad Hogg forged an important match winning partnership with Marsh and turned out to an unlikely hero with the bat. (Source: BCCI) Brad Hogg forged an important match winning partnership with Marsh and turned out to an unlikely hero with the bat. (Source: BCCI)

Perth Scorchers defeated Lahore Lions by three wickets in their Group A Oppo Champions League Twenty20 match here today.

Sent into bat, Lahore Lions scored 124 for six in 20 overs before Perth Scorchers chased it down with an over to spare.

Brief scores:

Lahore Lions: 124 for six in 20 overs (Saad Nasim 69 not out, Umar Akmal 26, Mohammad Saeed 20; Joel Paris 3/22, Mitchell Marsh 2/12)

Perth Scorchers: 130 for seven in 19 overs (Mitchell Marsh 63 not out, Brad Hogg 28 not out; Mohammad Hafeez 2/8).

Nasim shared a 43-run fifth wicket stand with Umar Akmal (26) and then put on a solid 48 with Mohammad Saeed for the sixth wicket to bring the Pakistani outfit back on track and cross the 100-run mark.

Meanwhile, play was interrupted for a brief while due to rain.

Chasing a modest target, the Scorchers also did not have an ideal start as they lost seven wickets for just 62 runs on the board.

The Scorchers kept losing wickets at regular interval with the top and middle order, barring opener Cameron Bancroft (22), failing to reach the double digit mark.

At 62 for seven, the Lions had a realistic chance of bundling the Aussie unit out below 78 and advance to the next stage, but Marsh and Hogg combined to consolidate the innings and guide their team to a rather comfortable victory in the end.

In the 19th over, Scorchers hit three sixes off Wahab Riaz – two by Hogg and one by Marsh – to wrap up the match quickly.

For Pakistan, Mohammad Hafeez was the pick of the bowlers with impressive figures of two for eight in his allotted four overs.

INTERVIEW-Games-Baseball switch a boon for South Korean cricket

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INCHEON, South Korea, Sept 30 (Reuters) - South Korea's Asian Games cricket experiment ended in defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday, but after their collection of baseball players and weekend enthusiasts took eight wickets off the Twenty20 world champions, coach Julian Fountain believes the sport could truly flourish here.

Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel delcared as proclaimed offenders in IPL spot-fixing case

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Underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and one other co-accused were today declared as proclaimed offenders by a Delhi court in connection with the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal case.

Additional Sessions Judge Neena Bansal Krishna declared Dawood, Shakeel and Chandigarh-based Sandeep Sharma, who were chargesheeted by the special cell of Delhi police along with suspended cricketers S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandela, Ankit Chavan and others in the case, as they are evading arrest in the matter.

During the hearing, the special cell told the court that properties of Dawood and Shakeel in Mumbai have already been attached earlier in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blast case and upon inquiry it has been revealed that they have not visited India since 1993.

It said Dawood has properties in his name at Dongri in Mumbai whereas Shakeel owns property in Nagpada there.

The police told the judge that they have also questioned the neighbours of Dawood and Shakeel in Mumbai and they have informed that both the accused have not been seen in the locality since 1993.

The court had earlier issued open non-bailable warrants against these accused who were chargesheeted in the case. The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on November 14.

According to police, Sandeep was an important link in the case as he was a part of the syndicate which run by Dawood and which was involved in the IPL spot-fixing scandal.

On August 16, the court had directed fresh property attachment proceedings under sections 82 (proclamation for person absconding), 83 (attachment of property of person absconding) of CrPC against Dawood and Shakeel in the IPL spot-fixing scandal case.

The court had also expressed concern over “repeated adjournments” sought in the case and had directed the police to supply copies of charge sheet and other documents filed along with it to all the accused.

Earlier, the Special Cell had informed the court that non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued against these accused could not be executed as they no longer reside at their last known addresses in India.

Besides Dawood and Shakeel, the NBWs were issued against Pakistan-based Javed Chutani, Salman alias Master and Ehteysham, who all are considered to be Dawood’s associates.

The Special Cell had filed a 6,000-page charge sheet against the accused in the case.

The court had on June 10 last year granted bail to cricketers Sreesanth, Chavan and 19 others for lack of evidence against them under the provisions of stringent law Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

Other accused, including cricketer Ajit Chandila, were also granted bail later on by the court.

The police, in its charge sheet, had claimed that Dawood and Shakeel, who have been “controlling the fixing and betting market” in cricket in India, were behind the IPL spot-fixing.

Mary Kom punches into finals, Sarita Devi made to settle for ‘controversial’ bronze

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Mary Kom was the clear winner in her bout and will bring India at least a silver medal as she is trough to the final. (Source: PTI) Mary Kom was the clear winner in her bout and will bring India at least a silver medal as she is trough to the final. (Source: PTI)

Controversy hit the Asian Games boxing competition after India’s L Sarita Devi (60kg) had to settle for a bronze medal despite dominating her semifinal bout even as M C Mary Kom (51kg) continued her winning run to enter the summit clash of the mega-event.

The Indian woman boxer in fray, Pooja Rani (75kg), also had to settle for a bronze after losing a closely-contested semifinal bout to China’s Li Qian.

But what triggered massive outrage was Sarita’s loss which left the Manipuri in tears. Up against home favourite Jina Park, Sarita, the Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, went down 0-3 despite clearly being the better boxer.

Sarita simply pummelled her rival with her flurry of quicksilver blows — at times raining four to her rival’s one.

But shockingly, Park was not given a single standing count by the Algerian referee Hammadi Yakoub Kheira despite looking rocked back by Sarita’s blows to her chin.

“There’s no point. It was pre-decided, the 3-0 verdict is a clear cut indication. The Korean deserved to have been given many standing counts, going by what happened in the ring, and the bout should have been stopped,” he said.

“Sarita was a clear-cut winner but money has talked here and the judges deserve to be thrown out. It happened in Seoul during the 1988 Olympic Games, it’s happening now again. Nothing seems to have changed. The new rules have made no difference,” he fumed.

Prior to the action-charged and scandalous bout, India’s best medal hope and former five-time world champion M C Mary Kom scored a convincing 3-0 victory over her taller Vietnamese opponent Ler Thi Bang.

Two of the ringside judges adjudged her the winner by giving her 40-36 score in the four rounds combined while the third put her 39-37 ahead on points.

Mary was a clear winner even though she was the shorter of the two southpaws, she easily came inside the Vietnamese boxer’s territory to score with jabs and rights to the face.

Mary, who won a bronze in the 2010 Asian Games and the 2012 Olympic Games before taking a break from the sport, is now assured of at least a silver medal.

However, Sarita’s shock defeat also left her with mixed emotions.

“I am shocked and disappointed. Sarita was the clear winner. This should not have happened,” she said.

She will now fight against Zhaina Shekerbekova of Kazakhstan who earned a 3-0 verdict over N Myagmardulam of Mongolia in the other semifinal bout.

“I will keep my focus because a gold has to be won for the country,” she said.

Later, Pooja put a spirited performance against Qian but eventually lost the bout 2-1 to finish a bronze-medallist. In the end, all three ringside judges ruled in favour of the Korean by identical 39-37 margins.

The ringside judges were Braham Mohamad of Tunisia, Albino Foti of Italy and Mariusz Josef Gorny of Poland.

Immediately after the bout, a tearful Sarita broke down while talking to journalists.

“All my hard work has come to nought. It has happened to me but kindly see that this kind of injustice is not meted out to anyone else in the competition. I request you,” she said tearfully with folded hands.

“If they wanted to award the bout to her, then why allow us to fight in the first place,” she added.

Her husband and former footballer Thoiba Singh was eve more furious and shouted obscenities at the ring officials, saying it was a clear case of cheating.

“You are killing boxing,” he shouted repeatedly and even went to the extent of trying to enter the ring again to cry out at the injustice but was prevented by the security officials.

India’s long-time Cuban coach B I Fernandez also called it a clear case of cheating, but said no purpose would be served by lodging a protest that will cost the Indian contingent USD 500 and will be forfeited if the appeal was lost.

‘Rigging’ takes ring: Sarita Devi cries foul after controversial loss

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OOUCH! South Korea's Park Ji-na (red) fights with India's Laishram Sarita Devi during their women's light (57-60kg) semi-final (Source: Reuters) OOUCH! South Korea’s Park Ji-na (red) fights with India’s Laishram Sarita Devi during their women’s light (57-60kg) semi-final (Source: Reuters)

After Mary Kom entered the gold medal round in her weight category, hopes were pinned on Sarita Devi to become the second women’s boxer to enter the gold medal round.

Taking ring against the host country’s Park Jina, Sarita exchanged a series of punches in the evenly fought first two rounds.

While the first round went in Park’s favour, the judges were divided for the second. Two rounds went in favour of the Indian, while one swayed the Korean way. Slightly content after the result of the second round, Sarita went back to her corner, caught a breath or two and stood up determined.

Very little did she know about how the third and fourth round would unfold for her. The 29-year old fought brilliant two rounds, but, on both occasions, failed to get the judges’ nod.

A sarcastic smile on her face, Sarita stood in disbelief as her Korean opponent celebrated the final berth. Watching her wife fight the semi-final bout from the stands, her husband Thoiba launched an attack and got into a scuffle with the security.

“You f***king Koreans have stolen this medal,” he shouted after his wife was ‘robbed’ of a chance to compete for the gold medal.

Sarita, too, like the viewers watching back home and from the stands, couldn’t hide her emotions and refused to accept the decision.

“Don’t accept this decision. Feel robbed. Favouritism in such events isn’t good. Korean boxer gifted the win. Plead judges to be fair,” said Sarita after her bout.

While India did appeal against the decision, but it was turned down.

Sarita’s incident, however, wasn’t the only case of the dubious boxing scoring. Moment’s after the Indian’s bout, a Mongolian boxer couldn’t believe that the judges ruled against his favour.

“The Mongolian won’t leave the ring. He stands there. Judge tells him to leave. But he won’t budge,” reports Mihir Vasavda of The Indian Express from Incheon.

The Mongolians were up for a fight and decided to withdraw their entire boxing team as a mark of protest. Unlike the Indian contingent, the Mongolian Chef de Mission, Contingent leader and everyone took the AIBA head on.

Cricket-South Africa name Philander in ODI tour squad

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CAPE TOWN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Vernon Philander is the only addition to the one-day squad that won the recent triangular tournament in Zimbabwe as Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced their selection to tour New Zealand and Australia starting next month.

Cricket-Australia paceman Johnson still remembers English taunts

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MELBOURNE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Australia pace bowler Mitchell Johnson has test series against Pakistan and India ahead but is already looking beyond them to next year's Ashes tour and the prospect of renewing hostilities with England while silencing the Barmy Army.

Cricket-Appeal panel cuts Ashraful ban to five years

Published on: Monday, 29 September 2014 //
DHAKA, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful will be eligible to return to competitive cricket in 2016 after an appeal panel on Monday reduced an eight year ban for match-fixing to five years with two suspended.

Semis, all but a final

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This wasn’t what coach Terry Walsh wanted, even though he wouldn’t admit it. India came into the Incheon Asian Games as one of two favourites along with hosts South Korea. As it now turns out, the potential final before the tournament began will be a semifinal.

And rusty India have reasons enough to feel worried. Even though they have had an edge over Korea in their recent meetings (India comfortably defeated them 3-0 at the World Cup), playing them in front of their home crowd in a knockout tie will be a completely different story.

The Sardar Singh-led Indian team lost 1-2 to Pakistan in a tense game last week at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium, which resulted in them finishing second in their Pool. India, who last won a gold in the 1998 Bangkok edition under Dhanraj Pillay’s captaincy, are once again looking for a top finish to gain a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics.

However, a lot of concerns lie in all departments of their game. Their defense is still not steady in the face of speedy thrusts and the weakness was evident against a skillful Pakistan side in their opening game. Walsh also lamented the lack of a ‘livewire’ approach and the midfield has still not exercised the authority required at this level.

The fact that SV Sunil, Chinglensana Singh, Danish Mujtaba and Birendra Lakra have just one field goal each to their respective credit even after playing against minnows like Oman and Sri Lanka tells its own tale.

Walsh, however, downplayed the concerns and insisted that the team was getting its ‘processes’ right and did not read too much into the performances so far.

Targets achieved

“We have achieved our first target for the competition and are now entering the crossover matches of the tournament. Playing South Korea at their home is a serious challenge for us,” Walsh said. “We will need high-quality ball handling and decision-making in the game. We must match their urgency and physical strength. Our target now is to out-perform the hosts,” the Australian said.

The two teams go into the match with a history of evenly-fought contests in the Asian Games with India enjoying a slender advantage, having won 2-1 in the 3rd/4th match to win bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou Games and drawing 1-1 at the 2006 Doha Games. They have also faced off in the final twice, 1998 and 2002, with both the teams emerging champions once each.

A perfect tadka in Incheon’s ‘Trafalgar Square’

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The name intrigues you. Sandwiched between Dongam and Dongincheon districts is a tiny locality that bears a distinct Latin name, Juan (pronounced Huan). It’s a quiet start to the day so you decide to explore the city.

After spending a week shuttling between venues in the comfort of the media buses, you decide to go metro-hopping. Like most public places here, this too has very little information in English. So you arm yourself with a route map that has some important tips for tourists – like counting the number of stations that precede your destination so that you don’t miss it. Juan is the eighth stop. Don’t miss it, I tell myself.

I decide to take the Rapid Line 1 from the Central Park station, which will take 25 minutes to reach Juan after changing the train once, the metro guide says. I bring up my geeky side and during the journey, I decide to brush up my knowledge on the city’s metro network.

The guide tells me that Incheon has one of the longest subway lines in South Korea but is still incomplete. The Metro 2 project was scheduled to be open to public by May this year.

As it turns out, there’s very little progress on the lane apart from laying the foundation stone. Three years delay is what the locals are expecting. I smile and think of all those days when I’ve cursed Mumbai rail officials for their inefficiency in implementing the Metro project.

Whoever has been to Incheon and calls it a sleepy city hasn’t been to Juan. It’s Incheon’s equivalent to Trafalgar or Times Square. Not more than 5km in radius, the place is swarming with tourists and locals, who’ve filled up the road-side cafeterias. It’s just 10.30am and the place is already bustling with activity.

A ‘Happy’ day

Bang in the middle of the road there’s a makeshift stage. Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ is blaring out on a loop from the speakers kept on the sidewalk. Every weekend, one of Incheon’s busiest streets turns into an open air stage for all.

A few yards ahead, there’s a night club. And a couple of blocks next to it is a church. At least a dozen restaurants which serve anything from Japanese to Italian, Korean to Halal cuisine are lined up on the roads. I am looking for an Indian restaurant that a friend said would be just around the corner from the station.

The manager of the restaurant is a man with a colourful background. In his mid-20s, he narrates the fascinating account from his journey in a remote village in Patiala to managing two Indian restaurants in Incheon and Seoul over a sumptuous thali. He reached Seoul five years ago on a tourist visa, married a Korean girl nearly twice his age and now is a legal resident of the country. “Set zindagi hai yahan paaji. Koi fikar nahi (My life is set here, no worries for me),” he says.

sania’s Korean circle of life

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A little more than a decade ago, an unassuming, chirpy 16-year-old girl made her maiden voyage with the Indian team. The child prodigy had been making rapid progress on the ITF circuit, where she had made her debut aged 15.

The Asian Games were purely meant to be an exposure for her. But the youngest member of the touring party, Sania Mirza, went on to win the mixed doubles bronze medal at the Busan Asian Games partnering Leander Paes. A journey, which began 12 years ago, came a full circle in the same country and in a city not more than 300km from Busan.

Sania, this time the most-experienced player on the Indian team, clinched the mixed doubles gold medal with Saketh Myneni on Monday. It was her eighth Asiad medal and second of the Incheon Games, after she earlier won the women’s doubles bronze with Prarthana Thombare. “Incidentally, Anand Amritraj was the team captain even back then. This time, however, I returned to South Korea as the senior-most player, which was a weird feeling initially,” Mirza said.

India matched their performance from the 2010 Asiad, which under the circumstances they came in is highly commendable. Old warhorse Paes along with Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna had given Incheon a miss, opting to play on the ATP tour in search of some valuable ranking points and salvage their sinking season. In their absence, the title defence was left to a clutch of journeymen who haven’t had a steady season themselves. And they didn’t disappoint. Yuki Bhambri won two bronze in the men’s singles and doubles with Divij Sharan while Sanam Singh and Myneni won silver in the men’s doubles event.

Mirza herself wasn’t too keen on playing the Asian Games, but once her entry into the World Tour Finals looked certain, she decided to join the team.

In the decade that has passed since she made her Asian Games debut, Sania has been an integral part of the Indian team. She has seen the team go from being no-hopes to medal contenders at the Asian Games. India have won a medal at every edition since. Mirza herself has won eight medals (two gold, three silver and three bronze). “This time we didn’t have our strongest team and were not the strongest contenders for medals, but people still expected us to win,” she said.

A long wait

Mirza waited, somewhat impatiently, for more than six hours for the rains to subside so that the mixed doubles final could get underway. The duo combined well to clinch gold as India’s tennis campaign at the Asian Games concluded with a haul of five medals. The second seeds overwhelmed the top-seeded Chinese Taipei pair of Hao Ching Chan and Hsien Yin Peng 6-4, 6-3 in 69 minutes.

Even though Myneni was playing his second match of the day, he hardly looked jaded. And understandably so. In his men’s doubles final, Myneni was reduced to a mere spectator after the South Korean duo Yongkyu Lim and Hyeon Chung identified Singh as their weak link.

The rain delay and an interruption at a crucial juncture in the second set upset their rhythm somewhat. But the Koreans, aware of Myneni’s powerful returns, consciously avoided hitting at his direction and continued to single out Singh. The Indians eventually lost 5-7, 6-7(2).

The defeat for the fifth-seeded Indian men meant that Singh could not win a second consecutive gold at the Asian Games, having won gold with Somdev Devvarman at the Guangzhou Games in 2010. Myneni, playing at the Asian Games for the first time, was not only effective with his big service game, he was very agile at the net, firing a lot of volleys for winners. “The rain delays broke our momentum a bit. But if you would have said I would return with a gold and silver before I came here, I would have taken it gladly. So I’ve no complaints,” Myneni said.

Goalmouth melee to outscore Raul

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The Champions League returns on Tuesday with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi competing for yet another prize as the rival stars take aim at the tournament’s all-time scoring record.

Ronaldo and Messi are neck-and-neck in a race to become the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer by breaking the record held by Raul Gonzalez. Ronaldo has 68 goals in Europe’s top club competition, one more than Messi. Raul scored 71.

Ronaldo may have a better chance of getting there first as Real Madrid play at Bulgaria’s Ludogorets in Group B on Wednesday, a day after Messi’s Barcelona have a tougher trip to Paris Saint-Germain in Group F.

The Portugal forward looks primed to increase his goal haul in Sofia after scoring 10 goals in his last six matches, including one four-goal performance and a hat-trick.

Messi, meanwhile, scored his 400th and 401st goals for club and country in Barcelona’s 6-0 rout of Granada on Saturday. Their latest two-man contest comes after they have divvied up the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player for the past six years and have taken turns leading the Champions League in scoring for the past seven seasons.

PSG meanwhile will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has been ruled out with a left heel injury. Ibrahimovic missed the last two PSG games because of the injury and coach Laurent Blanc says intensive treatment up until Monday morning failed to resolve the problem.

PSG has made a sluggish start to the season, drawing six of nine games so far, and will be without its top scorer against a Barcelona team that has yet to concede a goal. Without Ibrahimovic, Blanc says “it won’t be easy and we know it” because “the opponents are much more attentive when he’s around.”

Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani is expected to lead the attack in his favored center forward’s role.


Liverpool were the only English team to open the Champions League with a win, and only with a last-gasp goal against newcomer Ludogorets. Basel will present a far tougher challenge on Wednesday with striker Daniel Sturridge out injured as Liverpool look to keep pace with Madrid in Group B. Chelsea’s reliance on Diego Costa for goals seemed clear when the striker sat out the 1-1 draw against Schalke in the Group G opener. And ongoing problems with Costa’s left thigh are likely to force him to miss Tuesday’s game at Sporting Lisbon.

“He’s doing almost nothing (in training),” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “He’s just resting and recovering from the tight muscle he has. Every time he accumulates fatigue.”

Mourinho, who worked at Sporting as assistant to Bobby Robson between 1992 and 1993, is out to end Sporting’s 16-match unbeaten home run in Europe.

Manchester City face a formidable test Tuesday with the visit of a Roma side which has made a perfect start to the season at home and in Europe. It’s been a patchy beginning to the campaign for City, which opened Group E with a loss at Bayern Munich. In Group D, Arsenal host Galatasaray on Wednesday with both Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey out injured.


Atletico Madrid were minutes away from winning the European Cup last May before the title slipped away to Madrid. Now after losing this season’s opener, the Spanish league champions face a crucial game on Wednesday when Serie A champion Juventus come to town.

A loss to Juventus, combined with an Olympiakos win at Swedish side Malmo, would leave Atletico six points adrift in Group A. Atletico will be boosted by the return of coach Diego Simeone to the sidelines after he missed the first game due to suspension.


Bayern travel to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday in Group E with midfielder Xabi Alonso firmly in control of his new team. The Spaniard was only signed at the end of the transfer period after several players went down with long-term injuries. But Alonso stepped right in and has been impressive in directing Bayern’s attack.

Asian Games 2014: With gold, discus thrower Seema Punia moves past doping cloud

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On the podium, Seema wept as the national anthem echoed through an almost-empty Main Asiad Stadium. (Source: PTI) On the podium, Seema wept as the national anthem echoed through an almost-empty Main Asiad Stadium. (Source: PTI)

After three poor attempts, Seema Punia looked skywards, hoping for divine intervention. But all she could see were dark clouds hovering over head. In a way, it was symbolic. Her career has been anything but a clear blue sky. But on Monday, the discus thrower, formerly known as

Seema Antil, finally changed the script and lifted the gloom that has dogged her career ever since she began as a promising junior 14 years ago.

One throw of 61.03m went a long way to add a golden hue to the rather smudged slate, and India won its first athletics gold — the fifth overall — at the Incheon Asian Games.

On the podium, Seema wept as the national anthem echoed through an almost-empty Main Asiad Stadium. “It was a very emotional moment for me. All the pain and sacrifices came to my mind when I was on the podium,” she said.

A late bloomer of sorts, Seema’s talent was never in question. She was called a ‘millennium child’ when, as a teenager, she won a gold medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile.

However, she tested positive for the stimulant pseudoephedrine and her medal was withdrawn. She claimed she had taken a medicine for a cold on her way from India to Chile, and was unaware the tablet contained any banned substance. She escaped a ban after a two-member panel of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) heard her case and recommended that she be warned rather than suspended.

Even though she clinched the bronze medal at the same event two years later, her performances since then have always been looked at cynically.

To add to her woes, her transition from junior to senior was rather rough, further fuelling speculation about her ‘natural’ strength.

On some days, she would be the best. Seema even gave the then national champion Neelam Jai Singh a run for money. But those days were rare.

The emergence of Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medallist Krishna Poonia, who finished fourth on Monday, further complicated things for her. Moreover, her back started giving her trouble and affecting her performance.

Days before the Doha Asian Games, she found herself at the centre of a controversy yet again. Seema was scheduled to make her Asian Games debut at Doha 2006, but withdrew from the Indian team at the last minute and returned home. There were allegations that she tested positive for a banned substance during the athletics team’s training camp in Muscat.

The AFI convened a panel and found that she was innocent. Although given the green signal to compete, she did not travel to Doha, citing personal reasons and the negative publicity surrounding the case.

Seema resurfaced four years later at the Delhi Commonwealth Games by winning the silver medal. But just when things were starting to look up, a back injury forced her to skip the Guangzhou Asian Games.

She did most of her rehab and training at the Throwers Academy in the US to get her career back on track. Her husband Ankush, a former national record holder in discus throw, fine-tuned her technique and the results have been apparent ever since. “This medal means a lot because this was my first Asian Games. I missed the two previous Games partly because of a doping allegation in 2006 in which I was innocent, and also due to injury,” she said. “Finally, I have managed to win something big. Hopefully this will end the gloom that has dogged my career.”

Lyon must deliver in second innings, says Lehmann

Published on: Sunday, 28 September 2014 //

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has turned the blowtorch on Nathan Lyon, saying the spinner had not “delivered” in second innings spells to drive the Test team to victory.

An orthodox spinner who rarely strays from his stock off-breaks, Lyon will be under pressure to perform in the United Arab Emirates next month when Australia take on Pakistan in a two-Test series. “It’s a hard time because the last day of a game you expect him to win the game,” Lehmann said of the 26-year-old in quotes published by News Ltd on Sunday. “He’s bowled well in the first innings of Test matches but when it’s come to the crunch he hasn’t delivered as he would have liked or we would like,” he added.

“He knows that, he’s worked really hard on that. It’s about putting good balls in the right spot more often. If he improves that aspect of his game his record would be outstanding.”

Though Lyon has captured 112 wickets from 33 Tests at an average just under 33, he has long lived in the shadow of retired leg-spinner Shane Warne and never quite been able to silence his critics with a virtuoso match-winning performance.

Australia have kept the faith, however, and employed retired Test wicket record holder Muttiah Muralitharan as a spin consultant in June to help Lyon develop his craft.


Australia are likely to need a big contribution from Lyon in the United Arab Emirates, where placid wickets and heat are likely to prove taxing on pacemen. Though the injury-prone Shane Watson will miss the tour with a calf problem, Australia would definitely play an all-rounder, Lehmann said, backing 22-year-old Mitchell Marsh to make his Test debut. Marsh and Glenn Maxwell will have a chance to audition for the vacant all rounder spot in a tour match ahead of the first test in Dubai on Oct. 22. “You would probably think so,” Lehmann told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

Coach in need, a coach indeed

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Sanjay Sheoran paid from his own pocket to travel from Bhiwani to Incheon to ensure that his ward Pooja Rani didn’t make the same mistakes she did in training. Sanjay Sheoran paid from his own pocket to travel from Bhiwani to Incheon to ensure that his ward Pooja Rani didn’t make the same mistakes she did in training.

Instead of the ring, most eyes inside the compact Seonhak Gymnasium were locked at a burly, middle-aged man, who was balancing himself on a railing on the upper tier. He was blaring out instructions. They didn’t know who his remarks were directed to or what they meant.

“Paache naa ja… Dahina maar ghoomake… Kii kar rahi hai beti, haar jaegi,” the commands just got louder as the bout progressed. After a certain point, it got comical.

But Sanjay Sheoran couldn’t care less of what others thought. He had made a 20-hour trip from Bhiwani to Incheon just to ensure his protégé, Pooja Rani, doesn’t make the silly errors she had been prone to during training. And what he saw in the eight minutes of her bout against Chinese Taipei’s Shen Dara Flora didn’t really impress him. “If she plays like this, then there’s no way she will win the gold,” Sheoran said.


Sheoran has flown down for the Asian Games by paying from his own pocket. Since he is not the national coach, he isn’t officially a part of contingent. “His presence has given me a psychological boost. I could hear him shout from the stands and it worked for me,” Pooja, who entered the semifinals, said.

Like Pooja, the presence of their personal coach Lenin Meitei seems to have rejuvenated Mary Kom and Sarita Devi too. The two biggest stars of women’s boxing in India have shared an estranged relationship for a major part of the last decade. But the smiles on their faces are now back.

Brought together by adversities, the two started bonding at the national camp and have been seen spending time in each other’s company often at the Games Village. And Meitei is regarded as the man who brought them together.

Meitei helped the two mothers get into shape after child birth and prepared them for the events. However, he wasn’t allowed to travel with the boxing contingent for the Games. “When we were returning to the sport after giving birth, Lenin helped us to get fit and spent a lot of time with us in training. We have been following a certain regimen and would have liked to continue with it. He knows us very well,” Sarita says. “We requested everyone but no one listened to us,” Mary adds. “His presence here gives us more motivation.”

Emotions overflowed when the trio was reunited after the bout. Mary wept inconsolably and Sarita shed a tear or two after their bouts. “It’s been a tough journey for us. I am glad that the three of us are here together for such an important phase of our lives,” Mary said.

By entering the semifinals, the trio has assured themselves of a medal. Mary was clinical against her seasoned Chinese opponent Si Haijuan, while Sarita was more cautious and relied on counter attacks against Erdene Oyungerel to win her bout. In the semifinals on Tuesday, Mary will meet Vietnam’s Le Thi Bang, while Sarita will meet Jina Park of South Korea. Pooja will face Qian Li in the last four.

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