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Jackson fans' tribute at Apollo

Monday, November 24, 2008

Karuna to call meeting on Lankan ceasefire

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is scheduled to convene an emergency meeting on the Lankan ceasefire issue on Tuesday.

Karunanidhi called the meeting of leaders of legislature to chalk out the next course of action as there is no sign of Sri Lanka declaring a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the main Opposition AIADMK and its ally, the MDMK have said they will boycott the meeting.

Obama planning second stimulus package of upto $700 bn

To shore up the tottering US economy, President-elect Barack Obama and the Democrats are planning a new massive fiscal stimulus package that could run into as much as $700 billion over the next two years, rivalling the bailout sum Congress committed last month.

Hints of a hefty new spending programme began emerging last week.

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, an Obama advisor and Harvard economist Lawrence H Summers, whom the President-elect has chosen to lead his White House economic team, raised the possibility of $700 billion in new spending.

Obama advisor and former Clinton administration Labour Secretary Robert Reich and Democrat Senator Charles E Schumer also favoured spending in the range of $500 billion to $700 billion, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

The amount, if approved, will be one of the biggest public spending programmes aimed at boosting the economy since former President Franklin D Roosevelt's 'New Deal', it said.

Transition officials did not confirm to the paper that they are considering spending of that magnitude, but they made clear that economic conditions are dire and suggested that
Obama might be forced to delay his pledge to repeal President George W Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

While Obama has set a goal of creating or preserving 2.5 million jobs by 2011, his economic team have yet to decide how that would be accomplished or how much it would cost.

Austan Goolsbee, a spokesman for Obama on economic issues who is in line to serve on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, yesterday acknowledged that Obama's jobs plan will cost substantially more than the $175 billion stimulus programme he proposed during the campaign.

Republicans were quick to flay the idea of such a vast initiative, saying Congress should instead cut taxes to spur economic growth.

"Democrats can't seem to stop trying to outbid each other -- with the taxpayers' money," House Minority Leader John A Boehner said in a statement. "We're in tough economic times.

Folks are hurting. But the American people know that more Washington spending isn't the answer."

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Obama's team is putting together a new economic stimulus plan containing more than $500 billion in federal spending and tax cuts over the next two years, a package far more aggressive than anything envisioned during the campaign.

Democratic leaders in Congress are preparing to rush passage shortly after New Year's to have a stimulus-plan bill ready for Obama to sign once he is inaugurated January 20, it
quoted Obama aides and advisors as saying.

Meanwhile, Bush's outgoing Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, is now considering a more activist stance in his final weeks in office than he had signalled as recently as
last week, the paper said.

He is considering tapping the second half of the government's $700 billion financial-industry rescue fund, and rolling out new programmes in response to worsening market
conditions, the Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

Captain's inputs important, not decisive: Ex-cricketers

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's threat to resign to back a player of his choice did not find much support among former cricketers, who on Monday insisted that while a captain does have the right to give his inputs, the final call should rest with the selectors.

The former cricketers said while a captain's views should be given priority the ultimate responsibility and authority lies with the selectors, who have been entrusted with the job.

"The inputs of captain and coach in selection matters are very important. It's also important for the selection committee chairman to have a quiet word, informally, on the day before the selection panel meeting with the captain and coach. I used to do it most of the times, but not always," former chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar said.

"If the captain's demands are reasonable then it's okay to go with him as he formalises the team strategies. Every captain will put forth his views in selection meetings and Dhoni is no exception. But the final decision rests with the selectors," he added.

Former captain Bishan Singh Bedi said that the captain's views should be considered as much as possible.

"The captain is a co-opted member of the panel. His views should be considered as much as possible. But the selectors also have their plans and they should mutually sort out the issues if there are any," Bedi said.

Former captain and selection panel chairman Chandu Borde said the captains are given their due say during the meetings.

"During our times we used to include captain and manager (now coach) in selection committee meetings for discussions. Generally 85-90 per cent players select themselves on merit and performance. Only one or two players need to be picked.

"We used to discuss among ourselves and come to an understanding. There were times when the captains used to insist on certain players and we used to try and convince him about our choice," Borde explained.

"There were times when we used to put forth certain players' names and he would try and convince us about his choice and we will agree. He knows what is best as if the team does well then he gets the credit.

"In the end of the discussions there would be a consensus on all players keeping in mind the larger interest of the team. It always used to be a unanimous decision. I don't think a captain needs to have a vote. Already there are five votes and there can be ten also without solving the problem," he added.

Abbas Ali Baig also echoed Borde's views and said selectors should pay heed to the captain's opinion if they think it is sensible.

"I think the selectors should choose the team and tell the captain what they have in mind. If the captain is not happy with a couple of players, he can convince the selectors. The captain is responsible for what happens on the field and he is crucified when the team does not do well and he should a considerable say in selections matters," he said.

"But at the same time the selectors have also watched the players and they have some idea on what the team should be like," he said.

Former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad said even a voting right to the captain would not make much of difference as just one vote against an entire panel would not count for much.

"Even if captain or coach has a vote, it's not going to help because what can two votes do against five?

"Captain having a say is not a solution to this problem, but there should be a better understanding between the members attending the selection committee meeting," the former coach and selectors said.

"We should not forget that this is a selection committee meeting and not elections, even if there are votes to decide. Decision has to be mutual and with agreement," he added.

But Gaekwad insisted that a captain's views should be respected.

"But then it is up to the captain to convince the selectors. It must have reasoning and logic. I have gone all this being a selector and a chief coach. In all likelihood players develop a rapport when they are together so things may look a bit different from a third eye and a common man's angle," he said.

Another ex-selection panel chief Bapu Nadkarni also felt that the captain has to be convincing enough in his argument for a player's selection.

"He has got every right to speak his mind in the meetings. Captain's views have to be given priority by the selectors. But it also depends on how convincing he is to get the player of his choice. But I don't agree that he should have more say that he has at present (with a vote)," he opined.

C D Gopinath felt Dhoni should have been hauled up when he threatened to quit.

"I would not accept that. He cannot say that if you do not pick a player of my choice I will step down from captaincy. It is absolutely wrong. It amounts to indiscipline. It is virtually challenging the five guys sitting there and he cannot threaten. He can make his case but he cannot say that without him, I will not lead a side."

Legendary off-spinner E A S Prasanna said, "A captain should have bigger say in selecting players. Dhoni is right in his opting for a particular player if the concerned is in right form and will be of great balance to the team. At the same time, no captain had said so far that he was not given the team that he wanted and therefore he lost a match or a series."

"Captain is only a co-opted member but in order give bigger say and more responsibility to the captain he should be given voting right in selection meetings," he added.

Another spinner Maninder Singh was more sympathetic towards Dhoni, saying that a captain invariably gets the flak when the team fails and therefore he should be given the team he wants.

"He should have a lot of say in the matter but the selectors also have a job to do and it is their job to pick the team. I think that whoever plays international cricket must be good but sometimes their form deserts them and it is then that selectors should take the decision.

"Like the captain, the selectors are also accountable because they also get flak when the team fails to perform," Maninder said.

T A Sekar said, "In my opinion it is a double edged sword. It depends on the captain. Selectors also identify talent. But captains should have a vote in the meeting."

Hayden to play in CL T20 for Chennai Super Kings

Matthew Hayden has been cleared by Cricket Australia to play for Chennai Super Kings in next month's Champions League Twenty20 starting December 3, according to coach Tim Nielsen.

Hayden, who will be playing his 100th Test in the second match against New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval from Friday, will have rush to India for the Twenty20 event before embarking on a three-Test series against South Africa.

Hayden will have Michael Hussey as his company in Chennai Super Kings team while another member of the Australian Test squad -- Peter Siddle -- will represent Victoria Bushrangers in the Twenty20 tournament which is wedged between the series against New Zealand and South Africa.

"Cricket Australia has endorsed their participation, that's the way the modern game goes. We've just got to deal with it like we do when we've got players who are a bit sore or a bit tired on the road," Nielsen said.

To ensure that Australian and South African players represent their domestic T20 teams in the Champions League, Cricket Australia, which has a 25 per cent stake in the tournament, has delayed the Perth Test until December 17.

South Africa will be represented by Titans and Dolphins in the Champions League Twenty20.

"We have to understand the changing nature of the game, that this is what is going to happen to ensure the game keeps generating money and getting people involved and kids wanting to watch it," Nielsen was quoted as saying in 'The Age'.

"From my point of view, the Australian team and international cricket will always be the number one commitment, but it's not as simple any more as just saying that means we have our lead-up and everything else is put on the backburner," he added.

Country faces 'difficult situation': FM

NEW DELHI: Faced with the global financial crisis and a slowing economy, India's monetary policy is biased towards stimulating growth, and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to lower rates as inflation cools, the finance minister said.

"Taking note of the downturn in the inflation rate, RBI has lowered the policy rate as well as the reserve requirements. RBI's policy is now biased towards stimulating growth," Chidambaram said, referring to the Reserve Bank of India.

"If the rate of inflation continues to decline, the policy rates may also moderate and the bias in favour of growth may deepen," he told a meeting with economic editors on Monday.

"I hope the worst is over," Chidambaram said on inflation, inaugurating the annual Economic Editors Conference here. The rate of wholesale price rise has declined to 8.90% for second week of November after touching 12.91% in early August.

Among the strategies to revive the business confidence, the government is contemplating increasing expenditure on infrastructure projects.

"Increasing expenditure on infrastructure is being contemplated" to address concerns over global slowdown," he said agreeing the country faces a "difficult situation".

Projecting a growth of 7-8% for current fiscal, Chidambaram said, "In our view, we may expect a moderation in growth rate in the current year."

Chidambaram said expansion would moderate this fiscal year after the world's credit woes arrived on India's shores and high interest rates to tame inflation trimmed demand.

But in a report prepared for the meeting, he said: "The circumstances continue to be largely favourable for sustained, rapid and more inclusive growth of the economy."

The finance ministry report prepared for Monday's conference said the economy was likely to slow in FY09 but growth of 7-8% would still be among the best given the financial crisis and a slowdown in major export markets.

Chidambaram said the government may have to "revisit and revive" pending reforms and he hoped credit flows would improve by the end of November or December.

He added the government may need one more year to meet its revenue deficit target but fiscal consolidation remains a priority for the government.

Under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, the government was expected to eliminate the revenue deficit and limit the fiscal deficit to 3 percent of GDP by the end of FY09.

But the government had set a lower deficit target of 2.5% of gross domestic product. However, heavy spending on schemes such as a debt write-off for millions of poor farmers and higher wages for government employees has threatened that.

The government is grappling with the impact of the global financial crisis on the broader economy and have taken several steps in recent weeks, including sharp interest rate and banks' reserve requirement cuts, to protect the economy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last week that despite an adverse international environment India could sustain growth of about 8% in FY09.

Govt plans Rs 50,000 cr infra spend

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NEW DELHI: The government is planning to raise funds locally and domestically to kick start a spending plan aimed at the infrastructure sector to protect demand and push growth momentum. It plans to identify around 10 big projects in the road, port, power and airport sectors to spend close to Rs 50,000 crore or $10 billion.

Ever since the global crisis spilled over and froze credit markets locally in September and October, demand has slumped. The government now plans to spend this money even if it means increased deficit.

The government is looking at a mix of options to raise the money. It doesn't run a surplus so it will have to borrow for sure.

It plans to borrow domestically some part of the $10 billion as raising the entire chunk would mean pushing up interest rates and leaving little for private firms tapping the local markets. It has also asked the World Bank to double its funding to $6 billion annually. Finally, it could ask infrastructure funds like IIFCL and IDFC to tapl global markets and raise funds backed by sovereign guarantees.

But for the moment, the government hasn't zeroed in on any single option or any particular combination.

The government is looking at highways program, some mega power and port projects for the spending. All of it would be in the current financial year and will help capital goods firms like Larsen & Toubro and BHEL.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) currently has 53 projects worth Rs 60,000 crore.

Half the funds have been deployed and work is progressing on these projects, which is essentially aimed at four-laning nearly 4,300 km of national highway across the country.

Most of these projects are in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode, where there have been some problems for project promoters as far as raising funds are concerned.

There are 5-6 mega power projects where the government is closely monitoring progress. The government has also sought funding to ensure that the port and airport projects move as per the original plan.

The idea is to step up equipment procurement on at least 10 projects.

It’s time to rest key players

Apparently, logic and the complex D/L method do not go hand in hand.

Try figuring this out: India score 166 in 22 overs. England score 178 also in 22 overs, yet are declared losers by 19 runs! Of course, Messrs. Duckworth and Lewis have been around for a while now, but surely, the ICC should devise a simpler method that lends itself to logic, whereby the team that scores more runs should be the winner.

Anyway, I am in the minority and so congratulations are in order for Team India and Dhoni for wrapping the ODI series, leaving England and Pietersen wondering what they should do to beat a side that is so obviously on a roll. It is another matter that the Indians have always been tigers on home soil, but their comprehensive superiority over England cannot be doubted.

The Indian team showed the kind of commitment and confidence that saw them beat Australia 2-0 earlier in the month. For sure, we are witnessing the birth of a new Indian side that has the potential to go all the way to the top in all forms of the game.

Exclusive - Gavaskar: Oz went home like dogs that bark and do not bite | In Images: India seal series

It is difficult to visualise England bouncing back contrary to Pietersen’s brave words after the Bangalore game. There appears to be plenty of confusion in the England ranks with the captain himself looking rather out of his depth. They might yet win a game, but their cause is already lost. More to the point, Pietersen has not showed the kind of leadership qualities to keep a team together. At the moment, the England team is falling apart at its seam and yes, the slip is showing!

In contrast, I thought Dhoni kept his composure under pressure when England kick-started a serious chase after a hesitant start. The skipper displayed the same equanimity that he did in dealing with the sordid “Leakgate” where a National selector so obviously lacking in culture, ethics and decorum, whispered to his media friend about Dhoni’s threat to resign during last week’s selection meeting.

Kirsten reveals recipe for success in India

The wretched episode saw the Indian media having a field day while providing us a relief from the usual quota of “meltdown” news items and such depressing stories that have become a staple diet in the recent weeks. There are some who feel that the selectors who leaked inside information should be identified and banned for life from holding any position in the game, but I, for one, hold the BCCI equally responsible in view of its stubborn refusal to explain team selections.

Under the circumstances, just about everything concerning the BCCI is a matter of speculation and it is pointless blaming the media alone for feeding on the juicy crumbs that are thrown to them from time to time. For me, Greg Chappell’s leaked email a couple of seasons ago was a bigger crime and the former coach even resorted to sending out text messages to select journalists.

Yet, the BCCI continues to adopt a policy of non-disclosure ignoring the fact that the public at large has every right to information. After all, it is the paying public that either buys tickets or indirectly pays through cable that is the biggest stakeholder. Further, it is the public patronage that influences Corporate investments in cricket.

As for Dhoni, he would have got the first taste of cricket politics in India that at times descend to gutter-level. Before him, Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar were all victims of politics and intrigue that are so much part of Indian cricket. You would find many such schisms even in those long gone days of Nayudu.

Dhoni stops short of denying resignation reports | Stats: Irfan Pathan v RP Singh

Hopefully, the episode will be buried and not exhumed for further post-mortem as Dhoni has done more than his bit to knit an effective unit that is brimming with talent and bench-strength. So much so that even Tendulkar’s absence is hardly felt and the team seems to be performing at the same level regardless of who is in or out. Of course, though, the Indians have to show the same high performance on foreign soil and in different conditions before one can hail Dhoni as the best captain the country has had.

If there is a point that needs to be highlighted then it is the maturing of Zaheer Khan as a bowler. In the series against Australia and the four ODI games so far, he has been the pick of the bowlers with his consistency, whether line and length or providing early strikes. Some minor alteration in his action by cutting down on the final leap at the wicket, has done wonders to his bowling and like the young terrier Ishant Sharma, Zaheer needs to be carefully nurtured to prolong his career.

British media attacks umpires for Kanpur 'farce' | Full Coverage: England in India 2008

His 1993 'ball of the ce

Now that India have taken an unbeatable lead in the series, perhaps it is time to rest key players and provide opportunities to those on the bench and fringe players. I am pretty certain that Dhoni would insist on this although a 7-0 margin looks better than 4-3 or 5-2 or whatever.

Change in attitude has helped India: Srikkanth

Chennai: Chairman of selection committee Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Indian cricket is going through a transitional phase and that their ultimate objective is to win the World Cup in 2011 besides attaining the No 1 ranking in all formats of the game.

"The Indian team is going through a period of transition and by the grace of God, we are doing very well. The series win against Australia (Tests) and England (ODI) under MS Dhoni's captaincy has showcased our aggressive and positive attitude. Even when the chips were down against Australia and England, our team did well to fight back and win matches," he pointed out on the sidelines of the launch of the Chennai Super Kings fan club of which he is the brand ambassador.

Exclusive - Gavaskar: Oz went home like dogs that bark and do not bite | In Images: India seal series

When asked whether Indian cricket team is witnessing the start of a new era and promises to be the best-ever, Srikkanth said: "It is unfair to compare teams of different periods. The point is that this team under Dhoni has been shaping well.

"The key attributes are solid opening batting pair in (Virender) Sehwag and (Gautam) Gambhir, followed by a strong middle-order with Yuvraj, Sachin, Dhoni and Laxman in tremendous form. But as important is the fact that our new-ball bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma have been giving us early breakthroughs with the spinners following up.

Kirsten reveals recipe for success in India

"What I like about this team is that it has the right balance and bench strength with a lot of talented youngsters waiting to get in. I would say that everyone is chipping in and our success is mainly due to the team effort."

Looking to the future, Srikkanth said the team has short- and long-term plans. "Of course, winning the 2011 World Cup is the ultimate objective, but in the meantime, we would like to reach the No 1 ranking in all formats of the game."

He was all praise for Dhoni's captaincy, describing the skipper as "the Super King of Indian cricket" and said his composure even under pressure was a critical factor.

Stats: Sachin’s 273-day break | Indian clean sweeps

"Against Australia and England, there were times when the team was under pressure. But Dhoni kept his calm and held the team together. He did not panic in a crisis and backed his players all the time. In the process, the team has learnt to adapt itself to changing situations besides displaying tremendous fighting spirit," he said.

Srikkanth, however, declined to take questions on team selection.

'Dhoni is super king of Indian cricket'

Chennai (IANS): The Indian Premier League franchisee Chennai Super Kings launched their "Kings Club" here as part of their brand-building exercise to attract committed loyalty from the team's supporters.

Speaking on the occasion, T.S. Raghupathy, executive president of India Cements, the owners of the Super Kings, said the Kings Club plans to offer incentives to its members by way of subsidised tickets for IPL home matches, merchandise endorsed by the players and other schemes such as personalised interaction, including exclusive photo sessions, with the players.

"The inaugural IPL earlier this year was a tremendous success and the fact that our team (Super Kings) reached the final added to the popularity of the team. By launching the Kings Club, we would like to offer the fans an opportunity to be a part of an exclusive community," he said.

The Super Kings plan to fully leverage the growing status of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who captains the team as also the Indian squad for Tests and Twenty20. In his message to mark the occasion, Dhoni said: "I am happy about the launch of our official membership programme. I am sure you will find the club a great window to share the passion that we all have for the team."

Renowned percussionist Sivamani declared open the Kings Club and marked his presence with a rendition of the Super Kings' theme song. The Super Kings' brand ambassador Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Dhoni's stature was a huge factor in favour of the Chennai team.

Srikkanth said: "Dhoni is the Super King of Indian cricket and also the captain of the Super Kings." The presence of other foreign stars such as Matthew Hayden and Muttiah Muralitharan has given the team a high profile, he added.

"When we first launched the IPL, nobody knew what to expect, but I must say that the following for Super Kings has been fantastic. We want to leverage everything and the Kings Club is a starting point for our efforts to attract worldwide following," Srikkanth said.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've worked very hard on my body: Priyanka

New Delhi (IANS): After flaunting her curves and earning rave reviews for her performance in "Fashion", Priyanka Chopra is all set to show off her svelte figure in swimsuits and beachwear in forthcoming film "Dostana".

She says she had to work really hard to get the right shape for the romantic comedy.

"For 'Fashion', I had to put on six kilos and later had to shed chip by chip as the character progressed in the film. My body structure in 'Dostana' is more toned than in 'Fashion' as it is a completely beach film. I've worked very hard on my body," Priyanka told IANS in an interview.

After a hectic schedule with six films in a row this year, Priyanka said shooting for "Dostana" with Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham was like a vacation and a rejuvenating experience for her.

Entirely shot in Miami, Florida, "Dostana" comes as a breather for the actress whose flagging career was given a new lease of life with "Fashion" after a series of duds - "Love Story 2050", "God Tussi Great Ho", "Chamku" and "Drona".

"'Dostana' was like a vacation. It was so much fun. We were in Miami for two months and I was so fresh and rested when I came back. It was like a really relaxed outdoor and (I had a) great time because everybody got along well with each other," Priyanka said.

Produced by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions and directed by Tarun Mansukhani, the romantic comedy will release Nov 14.

Priyanka plays a fashion journalist who shares her apartment with Abhishek and John. The two dupe her to rent her apartment on the pretext of being a gay couple.

"John, Abhishek and I are best friends in the film who do everything together. It's a romantic comedy and a fun film about what happens in their lives," the actress said.

Asked if she had any apprehensions working with a debutant director, specially after a string of flops this year, Priyanka said: "Tarun is a fabulous friend of mine and an incredible director. When I first met him, I was a little scared.

"I am a kind of person who asks a lot of questions. I test directors. I like asking and Tarun knew the answer to every question I asked. He blew my mind with his confidence and the commitment he had towards the film. By the end of the film, he's become a really close friend of mine and I admire him as a filmmaker."

The former Miss World also says: "I definitely want to try singing. I might start with, maybe, a song in one of my films but I'm not sure when. But I definitely want to do it."

The actress said she admired the blogging rage among celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Ram Gopal Varma, but added that she couldn't take to it due to lack of time.

"It's such a great way to get closer to your fans. But I don't know how they find time to blog because I hardly sleep for more than four hours. I really want to do it at some point because Karan (Johar) was also telling me it's great... may be in a while when my schedule eases a little bit.

"I've had six releases this year, so it's been insane for me."

Priyanka is currently shooting for Vishal Bharadwaj's "Kaminay" and Ashutosh Gowariker's "What's Your Raashee", which she calls a "very complicated and difficult romantic comedy".

She also has sequels to Farhan Akhtar's "Don - The Chase Begins Again" and Goldie Behl's "Drona", apart from an item number opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Priyadarshan's "Billo Barber".

ICC, BCCI clash over Gambhir

MUMBAI: The one-Test ban on Indian opener Gautam Gambhir is fast turning into another showdown between the International Cricket
Council and the
Board of Control for Cricket in India.

On Tuesday, the ICC-appointed Appeals Commissioner, Justice Albie Sachs, upheld the ban on the batsman, triggering an instant reaction from BCCI which protested against the undue haste and unfair manner in which the decision was taken.

Justice Sachs' ruling — which means Gambhir may have to sit out the Nagpur Test beginning on Thursday — was arrived at without giving the batsman a hearing.

Gambhir had earlier pleaded guilty to the level 2 charge of not conducting himself "in the spirit of the game" during the Delhi Test match and ICC rules permit the appeals commissioner to decide the matter without conducting hearings.

But the swiftness with which the decision was taken has miffed BCCI. After shooting off a letter to ICC protesting the decision, the Indian board said in a statement, "The order has been passed without affording the player an opportunity of personal hearing, legal representation and without acceding to his request for certain documents or recordings to be given to him and also denying him any extension of time."

The ball is now in ICC's court. If it doesn't reply to BCCI's letter of objection within 48 hours, the Indian board, under the ICC rules, can go ahead and name Gambhir for the Nagpur Test.

If the ICC takes cognisance of the letter then it would mean another bout of legal proceedings making Gambhir's presence in the Nagpur Test a certainty.

That the BCCI is headed by a legal eagle, Shashank Manohar,was evident in the manner it went about naming Gambhir's replacement - the prolific Tamil Nadu opener M Vijay - for the fourth Test. "We have decided to keep him so that tomorrow the ICC should not tell us we didn't do our part of the job. But we have refused to accept the decision on Gambhir. By Wednesday, we should have a clear picture," BCCI secretary N Srinivasan told TOI.

Gambhir's run-in with Australian all-rounder Shane Watson on the opening day of the Kotla Test last Wednesday had resulted in a one-Test suspended sentence.

The sentence was announced by the match referee Chris Broad on Friday, the third day of the Test. BCCI swung into action immediately and went in for an appeal the same day.

It gave an allowance of seven days for ICC to take further action. BCCI, which though it had managed to ensure Gambhir's presence in the crucial match of the Test series against Australia, were stumped when ICC hastened the proceedings. With 463 runs in three Tests, the Delhi opener is the highest scorer in the series so far.

India surge ahead as Dhoni hits fifty

NEW DELHI: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni reached his 12th Test fifty in the first over after lunch on the second day of the fourth Test
against Australia at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha in Nagpur on Friday.

Scorecard | Videos

Dhoni reached the landmark when he cut a Mitchell Johnson delivery to the third man fence.

Before lunch, former captain Sourav Ganguly hit his 35th Test fifty and along with Singh Dhoni took India over the 400-run mark.

At lunch India were 404/5, with Ganguly and Dhoni having put up a century stand for the sixth wicket.

Looking to capitalize on the century by Sachin Tendulkar (109) and half-centuries by Virender Sehwag (66) and VVS Laxman (64), Ganguly and Dhoni, resuming the Indian innings on 311/5, started well and ran three runs six times.

Playing his last Test, Ganguly displayed ample grit and determination to notch up his fifty and is looking set to become only the second Indian after Mohammad Azharuddin to hit a century in his debut as well as in his last Test.

While Ganguly exhibited grace and elegance in his drives through the off-side, Dhoni showed his raw power in a sweep to square leg from outside off and a couple of shots to deep cover by the bottom-hand.

Ganguly hit his first six of this innings by charging down the pitch and hitting a Jason Krejza delivery straight over the top.

On Day one, India went past the 300-run mark thanks to a 146-run partnership between Tendulkar and Laxman. The stand came after India got off to a good start but then lost three quick wickets after Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first.

Tendulkar's master stroke

NAGPUR: A stunning 40th Test century by Sachin Tendulkar enabled India to take early control of the final Test against Australia on Thursday.

Tendulkar, the highest run scorer in Test cricket, compiled 109 and put on 146 for the fourth wicket with VVS Laxman (64), playing in his 100th Test, to help India close day one at 311 for five.

At the close, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (4) was at the crease with former captain Saurav Ganguly (27), who is playing in his final Test.

Left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson dismissed Tendulkar lbw with the second new ball after debutant off-spinner Jason Krejza took his third wicket when he pegged back the hosts by dismissing Laxman caught behind by Brad Haddin.

BJP sounds election bugle at Jaipur

JAIPUR: It was the party worker at the booth level that was the focus of the BJP leadership at the Vijay Sankalp Mahakumbh. It was a show of stren
gth in an election year, so much so that BJP leader L K Advani said, “I don’t know any other party that can bring together so many booth level workers.”

It was also a massive attempt to reach out and energise its booth levels workers. Moving away from the practice of focusing on leaders and individuals, the BJP sought to push the idea of a team.

Attended by estimated 2 lakh booth-level party workers from across Rajasthan, it was also an opportunity for the leadership to explain to the rank and file the rationale behind dropping many MLAs.

Though the party’s central election committee is expected to finalise the list of candidates for Rajasthan only later this week, it is clear that as much as 30% to 40% of sitting MLAs will be dropped. The party leadership stress on the centrality of the worker and that the party was more important than individual leaders was BJP’s way of containing possible discontent and rebellion once the list of candidates was finalised.

“There is only one candidate, that is the lotus,” the BJP president Rajnath Singh said. While the Rajasthan elections were the focus of the party workers’ rally, the central leadership of the party — L K Advani, Jaswant Singh and Rajnath Singh — focused on national issues as well.

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje urged that the partnership that had put Rajasthan ‘on the road to progress’ needed to be sustained, and for that it was required that the BJP retained power. “The Congress says it wants to build a new Rajasthan. Well it had power for 40 years, what did it do? Our state was a Bimaru state thanks to the Congress. And now we are on the road to progress.”

But the chief minister was quick to point out that the claims of progress were not her own. “I am not saying this, the prime minister said that Rajasthan was a model state for education, the health minister praised our medical schemes, the power and coal minister our efforts in electricity,” Ms Raje said.

Team work was the theme of the Rajasthan chief minister as she urged this team of nearly 5 lakh grassroot workers to ensure that the state does not make the “mistake of falling into Congress hands.”

Separatists plan march in Srinagar; police on alert

Srinagar (IANS): Curfew-like restrictions remained in force for the second day Friday in Jammu and Kashmir summer capital Srinagar after the separatist joint coordination committee re-scheduled its proposed march to the Jamia Mosque in the old city to Friday.

The separatists had earlier called for the march to the grand mosque in the old city's Nowhatta area Thursday, a move scuttled by the authorities through strict enforcement of section 144 of the criminal procedure code, under which assembly of four or more people is banned.

"The people should assemble at the Jamia Mosque on Friday where the joint coordination committee would announce its future resistance programme," Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, who also heads the committee, had told reporters here Thursday evening.

"Section 144 of criminal procedure code is in force throughout the city and no violations of the law would be allowed," a senior police officer said here.

Traffic, shops, educational institutions, banks and other business establishments remained closed in the city even as attendance in government offices was marginal because of non-availability of transport and curfew like restrictions.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who continued to remain under house arrest in his uptown Nigeen residence, told reporters that the separatists' poll boycott programme had been finalised. Jammu and Kashmir goes to the polls Nov 17 to Dec 24 to elect a new state assembly.

"There will be a Lal Chowk Chalo march on Dec 24 when polling is scheduled in Srinagar city. From Lal Chowk the people will proceed to the office of the United Nations Observers Group (UNMOG) in Srinagar and present a memorandum there," the Mirwaiz said.

"People will also march to the other district headquarters in the valley on the dates the authorities hold polls there."

Tendulkar rested for England one-dayers

Ace Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has been rested for the first three one-day internationals against England, the selectors announced here on Wednesday.

"Considering the hectic schedule ahead and the amount of cricket he has played this season, Tendulkar requested that he be rested for the first three one-dayers," Indian cricket board secretary N. Srinivasan said in a statement.

"The selectors have accepted his request."

England will play seven one-day internationals on the tour, with the opening game to be held in Rajkot on November 14.

The squad for the remaining four one-dayers will be announced later.

Tendulkar, 35, is the world's leading scorer with 16,361 runs in 417 one-day internationals with 42 centuries. He was forced to miss the last one-day series in Sri Lanka in August due to an elbow injury.

Opening batsman Murali Vijay was the only newcomer in the 15-man squad, to be led by wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag returned to the squad after missing the Sri Lanka series due to an ankle injury.

Subramaniam Badrinath, Praveen Kumar, Parthiv Patel and Irfan Pathan, who toured Sri Lanka, were dropped.

Indian squad for three one-dayers: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Rudra Pratap Singh, Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay.

Obama moves on to prepare for White House life

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President-elected Barack Obama has taken no rest after a 22-month campaign and is moving onto prepare for his upcoming presidency.

On Thursday, two days after Obama was elected the 44th president of the U.S., the Democratic senator from Illinois was busy planning meetings with economic advisors and conversing with foreign leaders by telephone.

Obama has talked with nine world leaders since his victory over Republican Senator John McCain in the presidential election.

The leaders included Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Aso Taro, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter.

On Friday, Obama was set to meet with his economic team and discuss solutions to the current financial crisis, which opinion polls have showed is the top concern of American voters this year.

Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, was also scheduled to hold his first news conference as president-elect on Friday.

Another priority on Obama's pre-White House agenda is the formation of his cabinet.

Rahm Emanuel, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, has accepted Obama's invitation to become his chief of staff.

"I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda," Obama said in a statement. "And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel."

Obama has yet to decide who will head the Treasury Department as the U.S. struggles with fallout from the global financial crisis and economic meltdown.

Potential candidates for the post include, according U.S. media speculation, Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker.

The latter two were to meet with Obama on Friday as members of a transition economic advisory board.

The first family-to-be on Monday will visit the White House at the invitation of President George W. Bush.

The current and incoming presidents were scheduled to discuss the economic meltdown during the visit while their wives were to tour the presidential residence.

"I thank him (Bush) for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship that will be required to meet the many challenges we face as a nation," Obama said in a statement.

The Obamas are expected to fly to Hawaii in December to honor Obama's late grandmother who died on Sunday in Honolulu, taking a break before they begin their adventure in Washington D.C.

Pak govt releases three Taliban in exchange of 10 soldiers

HANGU: The Pakistan government is learnt to have released at least three dreaded Taliban prisoners, including Baitullah Mehsud's deputy Maulvi
Rafiuddin, in exchange of 10 soldiers. The swap reportedly took place at Thal tehsil of Hangu district on Wednesday.

Sources said the exchange was made possible by the efforts of the Hangu Aman Jirga (peace council) in facilitating talks between the local administration and the Taliban.

Hangu district, which has a history of violence between minority Shia and majority Sunni sects, is close to Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where Taliban are active.

The Taliban released seven soldiers, including Hawaldar Tanveer, Ghulam Mustafa, Imran, Rizwan, Imran Ali, Mohammad Nisar and Arshad, and three Kurram Militia personnel, Shahid, Subhan and Dawar. The three Taliban released on Wednesday were among the seven arrested by the Hangu police in Daoba area on July 9, reported the Daily Times.

The Taliban had besieged the Daoba police station in retaliation and taken 15 security personnel hostage, added the paper.

The release of the three Taliban had been a key demand since their arrest in July.

Earlier, in September, Rafiuddin and the other two Taliban were released on bail by an anti-terrorism court in Kohat, but were re-arrested under the Frontier Crimes Regulation for failing to give security for good behaviour. The release was negotiated after tribal elders said Rafiuddin's release would help restore peace in the troubled region.

Why Obama's win matters to the world

BARACK Obama's identity empowers him to relate to the rest of the world with a potential authority unknown in history, Editor-at-Large Paul Kelly writes.
BARACK Obama depicts his win as the latest realisation of the American dream. He is manifestly an agent of change yet continuity. This is the key to his victory. For many white Americans he is giving their country back to them. For many black Americans he gives them a new stake in their country.

If this is truly the meaning of Obama's victory - the idea of the US being renewed - then it matters not just for America but for the world.

Obama, in a fashion reminiscent of John Kennedy, but more than any other US president-elect, is a candidate of the world. And he is reaching out to the world aware that this election had a global participation.

In his victory address, Obama spoke to the peoples “watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared”.

Its atmospherics are dramatically different from President George W. Bush's post-9/11 battle cry in anger that “every nation in every region now has a decisions to make” - either you are with us or against us.

Obama, unlike Bush, presents as candidate for an inter-dependent world. Bush's tragedy is that his first term folly destroyed his ability to persuade others to follow him.

As the first African-American president, raised partly in Indonesia, Obama's identity empowers him to relate to the rest of the world with a potential authority unknown in history.

A Realer Virtual World


For the large majority of Internet users, virtual worlds like Second Life remain a confusing landscape of empty buildings, failed marketing and furry strangers. But Joe Paradiso believes that virtual worlds could be more than an over-hyped gimmick. They just need a dose of reality.

Paradiso, a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, is working to create what he calls X-Reality or Cross Reality, a system designed to bring virtual and real worlds into a practical sort of alignment. With funding from Second Life parent company, Linden Lab, Paradiso aims to use sensors, displays and software to bring real-world data into virtual worlds and to integrate access to virtual worlds with real-world situations.

Later in November, Paradiso's team of seven Ph.D. students plans to switch on 45 PDA-sized devices mounted on the walls of the Media Lab's building. Each is equipped with an iPhone-like touch screen, a version of Second Life's software, wireless connections, cameras and a variety of audio, motion and infrared sensors.

According to Paradiso's plan, anyone in the building wearing a small electronic badge can walk up to one of the small screens and peer into a landscape in Second Life and communicate with users. Second Life users will likewise use the screens to look into the real world through floating windows in the virtual world, watching passersby or even remotely sitting in on meetings.

"These devices are designed to be like wormholes that let you tunnel through to a second reality," says Paradiso. "Second Life is detached. We're tying it into the real world."

The result, says Paradiso, will be a physical building that users can access from anywhere in the world. And unlike other "virtual meeting" setups where users' digital avatars awkwardly sit around a virtual conference table in Second Life or another constructed world, an X-Reality meeting would take place largely in the real world, with some virtual world users participating via Paradiso's "wormholes."

"We're just extending human perception through these nodes," says Paradiso. "We're funneling bits back and forth to the virtual world."

The potential is for X-Reality go beyond mere meetings. Josh Lifton, a former student of Paradiso's, used his Ph.D. thesis last year to show just how much Second Life can mirror reality. In a project he called "Shadow Lab," Lifton created 35 "smart" power strips and plugged them in throughout the Media Lab. Each was equipped with sensors capturing audio, movement, light, humidity and temperature data, along with the power usage of other appliances drawing electricity from the strip.

Lifton then represented real-time data from those power strip sensors in a Second Life recreation of the Media Lab, with floating tentacles of blue lines representing each node. When a student or professor walked by a sensor in the real world, the tentacle that represented it in the virtual world would wave. Temperature caused the stalks to change color, and they poured out varying degrees of virtual smoke to show how much power was being drawn from the outlet. Users could stroll--or fly--around the map to get a quick sense of goings-on in the real-world Media Lab.

Lifton argues that the "Shadow Lab" setup could be expanded to a more complex scenario like a building's emergency response system. In a fire, for instance, responders could map out the building's temperature and even find inhabitants in the virtual world before risking their lives in the real one. Paradiso offers the more prosaic example of a factory floor outfitted with ubiquitous sensors that lets any executive monitor its manufacturing in the virtual world.

Those ideas for bridging virtual and real worlds may not be as fanciful as they sound. Last February, IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ) created just this sort of virtual world representation to map the data center of Implenia, a Swiss construction and real estate company.

The virtual reconstruction of Implenia's data center pulled information about the layout of servers and storage, the devices' temperatures, power consumption and data processing over the Internet to IBM's servers, where they were built into a 3-D virtual world model. Implenia's engineers could use that virtual world mock-up to remotely track the data center's power consumption and efficiency in ways that would have otherwise been tough without visiting the location.

"You can remotely enter the data center and actually hear the hum of a power system, to know if that fan is running a little too much. From an auditory clue, you can fix something in the real world," says Colin Paris, an IBM distinguished engineer. "That combination of the real and virtual is something we know will be a very big play, and MIT is really looking at the boundaries."

Putting sensitive real-world data into the virtual world presents a few privacy problems, Paradiso admits. Experiments like the one he'll perform later this month or Lifton's Shadow Lab could let outsiders track the movement of a building's inhabitants and follow their behavior. Like any computer system, Paradiso says X-Reality implementations would require different levels of access based on verifying users' identities. "Ultimately, you have to trust the agent that's doing the tracking," he says.

Lifton, meanwhile, has moved on to less privacy-threatening applications of his X-Reality expertise. As a researcher for the virtual world contractor Electric Sheep, he's working with a major toy company to build a product that would exist in both real and virtual environments. Lifton won't offer details of the toy but compares it loosely to a robot that "remembers" its experiences in Second Life. Win a game in the virtual world, for instance, and the toy gains a new functionality in the real world.

Small-scale entertainment applications like these, says Lifton, may be more realistic in the near term than Paradiso's dreams of large-scale X-Reality. "Entertainment is definitely where this will happen first," he says.

But Paradiso has bigger plans. In fact, he believes virtual worlds as a whole may need an injection of real-world connection before they slip into obscurity. "Everyone's fascinated with virtual worlds, but they're starting to get a bit tired," he says. "How you tie the virtual world into the real--not necessarily one or the other, but a whole continuum, a layered immersion--that's an intriguing story."

81-letter name is world's longest

LONDON: A British student has changed his name and claims it is the world’s longest — Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman
Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined — at 81 letters.

George Garratt changed his name through an online site, Legal Deed Poll Service. The site issued a legal name-change certificate.

His name beats the Guinness Book of Records’ longest name registered on a birth certificate by 24 letters. The current record holder is named Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams, with 57 letters.

Stumblerz website says a German immigrant to US has the longest given name: Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quiney Randolph Sherman Uncas William Xerxes Yancy Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorft.

Friday, October 31, 2008

GAIL-Indian Oil to set up petrochemical plant

NEW DELHI: State-run gas transmission company Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) on Friday entered into an agreement with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to explore the possibility of setting up a Rs. 10,000-crore petrochemical plant at Barauni in Bihar. The proposed plant will use 2.50 lakh tonnes of naphtha produced by IOC’s Barauni refinery and the natural gas GAIL plans to bring from Eastern offshore and imported LNG through the planned Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline.

“GAIL and IOC have signed an MoU for exploring the possibility of setting up a cracker complex, including downstream derivatives at Barauni,” GAIL Chairman and Managing Director, U. D. Choubey, told newsmen after inking the agreement here. The two companies would prepare a techno-economic feasibility study for the unit that would take up to five years for construction.

“Naphtha prices in India and the world-over are on a downturn. It is selling below fuel oil (price) as demand is not there. We are forced to export naphtha and the proposed unit will enable us to extract value from the fuel,” IOC Chairman, Sarthak Behuria, said.

A 130-km spur line from Gaya to Barauni would be laid to transport gas to the Barauni fertilizer plant, IOC’s refinery and the proposed petrochemical unit. GAIL’s Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline would transport gas found in Eastern offshore. GAIL had already announced plans to double its Pata petrochemical plant’s capacity to 8 lakh tonnes in 3-4 years. Mr. Choubey said the proposed unit at Barauni would be of a minimum 3-lakh tonnes capacity.

Indian American beauty dons many hats

She is Miss India America 2007, hosts online South Asian video content website desiyou, is president of Riverside campus South Asian club of
Ridhi Patel
Ridhi Patel (TOI)
University of California, and is also part of a professional Bollywood dance team.

Wearing so many hats doesn’t bother Ridhi Patel. As the face of growing breed of "not confused" American-born desis, Ridhi knows how to blend the best of both cultures. A student of Business Economics, Law and Spanish and an aspiring lawyer, Ridhi grew up in a typical Gujarati household. Her father from Kenya and mother from Gujarat moved to the US in 1980 and run a family-owned print shop in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Unlike her American peers, she continues to stay with them even after joining college.

Browsing through the internet she ran across the pageant information and saw the opportunity as a way to add to her resume. Her parents though, in her own words "weren’t jumping with joy but were not unsupportive as well". "They have always said that I can do anything as long as I am consistent and give it my all. They did not see exactly why I needed to do the pageant and thought of it as a distraction to my studies but they did not forbid me to continue with it," she says.

Winning the pageant has kickstarted her modelling career and boosted her confidence too. "I do not have professional modelling experience but when I was younger I used to get involved in fashion shows for local Indian dress stores, which were displayed at large South Asian events. After the pageant began my real start in modeling, I never saw it in my reach until now," she says. Patel helps out in family business, is financially independent and is keen on taking up a career in law and business entertainment. "I eventually want to become a lawyer and have begun steps in that direction. But I see PR, marketing and entertainment more of my niche and look to expand myself in business entertainment," she says.

ANALYSIS-Cricket-Gambhir ban again sours India v Australia clash

NEW DELHI, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Batsman Gautam Gambhir's one-test ban has again drawn attention to the acrimony that has marred India's recent tussles with Australia.

Gambhir was suspended by International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Chris Broad on Friday for elbowing Shane Watson while taking a run on the opening day of the third test in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Australia all-rounder Watson was fined for provoking the batsman, the incident bringing to a head a series of verbal clashes forcing the umpires to intervene.

Gambhir was also fined for barging into Shahid Afridi in a one-dayer against Pakistan last November.

The Indian cricket board has lodged an appeal against his latest ban, which would allow the 27-year-old to play in the fourth and final test.

This series started in the shadow of India's tour to Australia in January when spinner Harbhajan Singh was at the centre of another storm.

India then overstepped the line again when paceman Zaheer Khan was fined 80 percent of his fee in the second-test win in Mohali for a verbal send-off of opener Matthew Hayden after the Australia opener had been dismissed.

Players from both sides made good-behaviour pledges before the series but have since shown scant regard to Broad. Some pundits say the Indians are adopting a tit-for-tat approach against Australia, who have long been accused of gamesmanship by sledging rival players.

"It is a sign of self-belief," former India captain Ravi Shastri told Reuters. "Give back as good as you get but make sure you don't cross the line and look stupid.

"It is India who have played well against Australia in the last three or four years."


Shastri said England skipper Kevin Pietersen had shown the best way to tackle Australia was to stand up to them.

"Kevin has shown he is capable of backing his words by taking that extra pressure upon himself and performing," he said.

Shastri backed Gambhir's ban and warned players against violating the spirit of the game but also said the Indian verbal response was having its effect on Australia, who trail 1-0 in the series.

In the controversial Sydney test in January, Harbhajan was initially banned after being found guilty of racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds. India threatened to pull out of the tour if the ban was upheld and he was eventually let-off with a fine after the charge was downgraded to use of abusive language.

The attitude of the Indian players has changed markedly since they won the Twenty20 World Cup in 2007, beating Australia on their way.

During this series Zaheer, Vangipurappu Laxman and India vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni have dubbed Ricky Ponting's side too defensive.

Some pundits say India's young, self-confident players are more aggressive but that the captains should help ease the tension and ensure the focus of attention is firmly on the playing of the game rather than side issues.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too hot to handle: Gambhir and Laxman hit doubles

Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman hit double centuries in Delhi yesterday as India all but batted Australia out of the third Test of the four-match series. The opener hit 206 - the maiden double century of his career - and Laxman made an unbeaten 200, at which point Anil Kumble declared with India on 613 for seven. Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich closed the day on 50 without loss having seen off the final 15 overs.

Australia began the day banking on the second new ball to break the partnership between Gambhir and Laxman, worth 139 overnight. Those hopes turned to dust as Gambhir hit 26 fours and a six before being bowled off the inside edge by Shane Watson, 4½ sessions after he first came out to bat. The fourth-wicket partnership had yielded 278 runs in 72.1 overs, the best ever at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

It had taken 35 overs for Watson to be introduced and Ricky Ponting, who had bowled two overs himself by then, saw the all-rounder remove Gambhir with his sixth ball. Katich came on at the same time and broke through in his second over, Sourav Ganguly hitting to the captain at short cover, and when Watson had Mahendra Singh Dhoni caught behind for 27 Australia had taken three for 46, their best period of the game.

"The [Australians'] total approach has been defensive right from the start of the series," Laxman said later. "You see the captain saying that they are the underdogs for the series; that puts them in a defensive mode. Our captain, Anil [Kumble], despite the criticism he's been facing, he's very, very positive in the way he's talking about his team. And Ricky is talking about the Indian team rather than his own.

"They've got the resources," he added. "Except for [the retired] Adam Gilchrist, the team doesn't look different from what we played in Australia when they beat us 2-1. I think it's just that mental approach. I'm not sure why they've been defensive in the way they've approached the series."

Watson, meanwhile, has been fined 10% of his match fee for a confrontation with Gambhir. The pair clashed while the Indian was taking a second run off him during the first day's play. Gambhir has admitted a more serious offence and his case will be heard today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sachin – the evergreen bestseller

Anand Philar

Sachin Tendulkar is to Indian cricket what Beatles were to music. Never has a single cricketer aroused so much emotion and passion as Sachin has over the past 19 years since he first represented India as a curly-haired 16-year-old. I vividly recall the sensation this wonder kid from Mumbai created when he made his international debut at such a tender age back in 1989.

We could hardly believe that one so young was thrown into such a competitive arena to face the likes of Imran and Akram in Pakistan. We cheered every stroke he played, every run he scored and gasped in disbelief as he took on the Pakistani attack despite suffering a bloody nose. To think that we continue to follow every move of this little man in 2008 is a testimony to his greatness and iconic status.

Perhaps, it would take a Neville Cardus to do justice to Sachin’s cricketing ability that evoked wonderment from even the reticent Sir Donald Bradman. A million words have already been written on Sachin surpassing Brian Lara’s record and going on to become the first batsman to cross the 12,000-run milestone, and in this context, I admit I am a late arrival in applauding these feats that underline his endurance. Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to write about a player who set our heart aflutter every time he walked in to bat.

Wish Sachin | Sachin Special

There has been the usual comparison between Sachin and Lara. The former Aussie captain Ian Chappell perhaps summed it up nicely the other day when he said Sachin learnt to reinvent himself with age while Lara at the end of his career batted in the same as he did at the start. I would say that Sachin is more like quality wine that matured with the passage of time and something to be sipped and savoured while Lara was a heady cocktail, much like the potent Jamaican Rum!

Despite all our admiration for Sachin, we have also been guilty of castigating the great player every time he failed, without making allowance for the law of averages. From the onset, he had set such a high standard that even a little drop would see heckles rise.

In the recent past especially, we overlooked his great deeds and wrote that it was time he bid adieu. His own Mumbai crowd booed him in a moment of madness at a time when Sachin was struggling with form and injuries. Yet, we didn’t get any reaction from him except that he continued to bat on as if he was unaware of all the criticism hurled at him.

And at Mohali when he crossed Lara’s record and went on to make 88, Sachin in his inimitable style made his critics to eat their own words. It was typical of him to let his bat do the talking rather than get tangled into an unseemly war of words.

Looking back at his career, Sachin nearly made it to the Indian team on its disastrous tour of the West Indies under Vengsarkar in 1987-88. Sachin had made waves with his triple hundred in a Harris Shield schools tournament and also a world record partnership with his mate, Vinod Kambli. Many believed that Sachin was good enough to face the fearsome West Indian fast bowlers at that time, but wiser counsel prevailed and he was not included.

Full coverage: Australia in India | More cricket news

In 1987, when I was working in Bombay, some of my friends urged me to do a piece on Sachin. One of my colleagues said: “You got to watch this boy. He is an amazing talent and perhaps, we should do a feature on him.” I dismissed the suggestion thinking rather cynically that making runs in schools tournament was no big deal considering the quality of bowling. Till to date, I regret the opportunity that I missed.

So, what is it about Sachin that sets the entire country afire? The obvious reason I can think of is that he is living our dreams. After all, most of us nourished an ambition of playing for India, hitting the fast bowlers for fours and sixes, making a century and winning or saving a game single-handedly. Sachin did all of these and, going by his Mohali form, is not in sight of the finish line.

If I were to pick one flaw in Sachin’s personality, it is that he failed as a leader. Had he been successful in his two stints as India captain, it would have polished those little rough edges in his persona. But then, even a Bradman was denied of perfection that only lies in the realm of Utopia. I am sure, it would have pleased Sachin a great deal more had he shaped the team into a fighting unit, like Ganguly did after him.

Off the field, being a very private person and extremely sensitive to exposing his family to public glare, few really know Sachin the man. I have spoken to a few who have closely followed his career and life, but none could throw light on his family life, or rather, chose not to talk about it for reasons that are a mystery to me.

Perhaps, a day would dawn when Sachin decides to write an autobiography and I have no doubt, it would be a best seller, much like himself.

Dhoni continues to top ICC ODI batsmen ranking

Dubai: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni continued to top the batsmen chart in the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI rankings issued on Wednesday.

Dhoni, with 793 rating points to his kitty, is way ahead of Australian Mike Hussey (776) and South African Graeme Smith (764) who are at the second and third position respectively.

Full coverage: Australia in India | More cricket news

Dhoni's teammate Sachin Tendulkar is the other Indian in the top 10 list at the eighth spot with 724 rating points.

Smith, however, is eyeing second place in batting list as South Africa face Kenya in a two-match ODI series in Bloemfontein on October 31 and in Kimberley on November 2.

In the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers, Australia's Nathan Bracken heads the list with New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori in second spot and left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson, another Australian, in third.

Comment: Adam Gilchrist and his True Colours | India favorites for Kotla Test

In the ODI championship table, India is in the fifth spot above Pakistan. India and New Zealand both have 113 points, but the Kiwis are on fourth position after recalculation upto two decimal points.

Australia (131) leads the table while South Africa (118) and England (116) are in the second and third positions respectively.

Gambhir accuses Australians of pressure tactics

Delhi: India's century-maker Gautam Gambhir on Wednesday accused Australia of resorting to pressure tactics to get him out on the first day of the third cricket Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla here.

Gambhir had run-ins with spinner Simon Katich and medium pacer Shane Watson. First he had an exchange of words with Watson when the all-rounder got in his way of taking a second run. Gambhir elbowed him out, but insisted that it was not deliberate.

Full coverage: Australia in India | More cricket news

Gambhir then got into a heated exchange of words with Katich who, on his follow-through, came in Gambhir's way to prevent him from taking a single. Gambhir was furious and umpire Billy Bowden had to step in even as skipper Ricky Ponting and his deputy Michael Clarke ran in to pacify Katich.

"The way we batted, they had no other way and they were desperate to get me out. Under the circumstances it was important for me to maintain my concentration," Gambhir told reporters after the day's play.

But the 27-year--old downplayed the incidents, saying that such things happened in international cricket and that the team management is not going to lodge any complaint with match referee Chris Broad. "It has been a hard fought series and such things are bound to happen," he said.

Comment: Adam Gilchrist and his True Colours | India favorites for Kotla Test

Gambhir's unbeaten 149 was his second consecutive Test century and also the first at his home ground. The Delhi batsman admitted that the 104 in the last Test in Mohali helped him to ease the pressure.

"My century in Mohali was very crucial. Before the start of the series, there was a lot of talk about my batting and I feel that century helped to take the pressure off me. I was playing at my home ground and I didn't feel any pressure."

Gambhir rated his century here better than the one at Mohali.

"In Mohali, the century came when we were already 200 runs ahead. But here I had to give a good start to the team and put runs on the board for the bowlers," he said.

Gambhir also said since Australian spinners, especially Katich, was able to get some turn out of the track, the job for him and the other Indian batsmen will be to put up a big score.

"It is still a good track to bat on. But as the match progresses, the pitch will crumble and there will be inconsistent bounce. So our target now will be to pile up a huge score for the bowlers so that they can take the 20 wickets," he said.

Ind vs. Aus 3rd Test Match: Australian Bowlers Puzzled in the Indian Conditions

Review : Day 1, Session 3 (post - tea break) of the Third Test Match of the 'Border - Gavaskar Trophy' between India and Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi.

Once again a good start by Australian Bowlers became a dismal performance by the end of the day. Kudos to the Indian batting line-up for firing for their Team after early set backs happened in the morning in form of Sehwag and Dravid.

Magnificent batting performance by talented youngster Gautam Gambhir with excellent support from the Master Blaster Tendulkar and the Classy VVS Laxman made the day for the Indian Cricket Team. Gambhir scored a very well crafted 149 n.o. on day 1; a innings which seemed to be well planned and executed as he played calm and composed innings till Tendulkar was going great guns in the middle and in the next phase Gambhir fired with wristy Laxman playing an unlikely innings today.

Laxman is unbeaten on a score of 54 with Team Indian ending the day with a cricket score of 296 runs for a loss of 3 wickets. The run rate never went down below 3 runs per over once Tendulkar went out to bat and got accelerated with Gambhir - Laxman partnership, who added 139 runs from 37.1 overs with a run rate of 3.73 runs per over.

Indian Dressing Room will surely see happy faces today and all will be charged up for one more day of kangaroo hunting tomorrow. Cricket360 feels proud as its estimate of Indian Team scoring 250 plus runs today for a loss of 3 wickets came true. The Cricket360 review for the first session of the day estimated those figures with an outlook of Indian Team getting on top in this Test Match with the achievement of the estimated figures.

Congratulations to Team India for a successful day of play and Cricket360 worries for the Aussies as the pressure in building on them. Aussies had a poor over rate in today and had 30 overs left to be bowled in the last 45 minutes of the play. Ponting had to bring in non-regular bowlers like Katich and Michael Clarke to take care of the over rate and take Australia out of one more poor show in India.

The Aussie bowlers were helpless once the early moisture dried up and they had a pitch like Mohali once again infront of them. Neither their strategies and studies on reverse swing helped them nor did the ‘Coaching Classes’ of Bishan Singh Bedi prove to be fruitful.

Start re-thinking or Cricket360 must say Aussies should go for a 'Cricket Process Re-engineering' before every Indian Tour.

Cricket360 will present a Cricket Special Review for the days play in a short time from now. Till then let us take a break and cherish the wonderful moments of the day with our friends through Cricket360 video chat and blogs.

Sachin upset by lack of respect for the seniors

Zeecric Bureau

New Delhi, Oct 29: Sachin Tendulkar finally opened his mouth in the whole ‘junior-senior’ debate that has been dogging Indian cricket for some time.

Taking a firm stand on the whole issue, the Master batsman, who has recently broke Brain Lara’s record to become the highest scorer in Test cricket, said the seniors including him would decide the place and time of their retirement.

“The seniors including myself will decide the time and place of retirement”, said Sachin.

In an interview to a private news channel, Sachin also said, “The lack of respect towards the seniors does not happen anywhere”.

"We all know when to move away from the sport. But people have their opinions. Sometimes these opinions are not correct. But still one is made to believe that yes this is the right opinion and all kinds.”

"I think this should be left to an individual. Having said this, we have played enough to know exactly when to move away from the game. The individuals will take their decisions when feel it`s the right time," said the batting maestro.

“It’s only in this country that not enough respect is shown to the seniors who made major contributions”, Sachin added.

Tendulkar thought there was not a single player in the team who believed that if he was not enjoying the game he would still stick around. "I don`t think there is a single individual like that in the team".

He also categorically said that he was surprised to learn Sourav Ganguly’s decision to quit cricket at this juncture of his career.

"I am sure it must have taken him a long time to reach there. And it`s a big decision. But if he feels that it is the way to go, then we all should respect," Tendulkar said.

Asked why he chose to skip the Twenty20 World Cup last year, Tendulkar said, "I felt my body was not up to it. I was struggling a bit with my body and If I am not able to give my best, I should not be a part of it. Because it is going to be a fast game and I don`t want to be those players inside where captain is trying to protect me from this and that."

"I wanted the team to go out there and give their best without thinking me as a sort of handicap for them and I felt I was not in a position to give my best. I don`t want the team to think about my injury but focus on how to get the cup back home," he said.

On the emotional aspect of playing in front of Mumbai crowd, he said, "That`s where I grew up and there are plenty of friends sitting in the stands and so it`s different. I can`t deny that I have got support from all over the country, got affection and love. But Mumbai is something different."

Tendulkar praised ODI captain MS Dhoni for possessing a balanced head and sharp mind.

"He got a balanced head on and off the field and I think he has got a sharp mind. His situational awareness is very good and that the quality that I noticed quite early in him."

Asked about his suggestion of Dhoni`s name when Rahul Dravid stepped down from captaincy, Tendulkar said, "I have never talked on this publicly. I conveyed to the president Mr Pawar at that time and also to Dilip Vengsarkar. I don`t believe in talking about certain things publicly.

He also does not think that his batting form dipped during his stint as India captain.

"It was media who projected it wrongly and if you go back and see my record as a captain I was averaging 51. It was projected as if I am not scoring runs. In some 20 games I have scored 700-800 runs and I averaged 51," he said.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't sell stocks in panic: Chidambaram

New Delhi, October 23: : Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday advised investors in equity markets to take informed decisions and not to act in panic.

"There is no reason for Indian market to go down just because the eastern markets are down...nobody should sell in panic," he said in New Delhi.

On the fall in rupee value, he said, capital is going out of the country because there are redemption pressure on FIIs back home.

Once these pressure eases, money will flow into the country in the form of ECB, FCNR, NRE.

Bishop suspended for adopting woman

In what is perhaps the first instance of its kind, Bishop John Thattunkal was suspended in Kochi for adopting a 26-year-old woman as per the civil law.

The adoption was opposed by priests and leaders of the Latin Catholic Church.

The suspension comes after an inquiry conducted by a three member commission. The Bishop will be out of office till the completion of the inquiry.

German girl rape case gets murkier

The mother of the 14-year-old German girl, who was allegedly raped by cabinet minister Babush Monseratte's son, has now said her daughter was also physically abused by PWD minister Churchill Alemao's nephew.

The mother, however, is yet to file an official complaint. Meanwhile, Alemao and his nephew have denied the allegation.

The new allegations were levelled by Fadela Fuch's lawyer, who claims that PWD minister Churchill Alemao's nephew Warren abused the 14-year-old.

Fadela Fuch's campaign for justice for her daughter is now becoming murkier. Her 14-year-old daughter may have been victim to more than one politically connected Goan.

Fuch' s lawyer has accused Warren, the nephew of Goa's PWD minister of sexually abusing the girl. This comes ten days after the police charged the son of Education Minister Babush Monserrate with raping the minor.

"I have verbally asked the Kalangut police to investigate Warren in this case," said Aires Rodrigues, Fuch's lawyer.

The mother still has to file a police complaint, however, Alemao has reacted with a hurriedly called press conference wherein he denied the allegations.

"I say these allegations are false," said Alemao.

The case threatens to drag out more skeletons from Goa's political establishment. But the police have faced a major stumbling block even in the Monserrate case as so far, the girl has not recorded her statement.

Vaiko arrested again for pro-LTTE speech

Tamilian first or Indian that is the question provocative politician and MDMK chief Vaiko had to answer on Thursday after being arrested for a speech that the government says amount to sedition.

The MDMK Chief has been booked for sedition and sent to the Puzhal Prison on the outskirts of the city. In his speech made last week, he threatened to lead an arms struggle in Sri Lanka
, which got him into trouble again.

"If you give arms to the Sinhalese to kill our Tamil brethren, will we not take up arms and if required I will be the first person to lead this," said Vaiko, general secretary, MDMK.

This is the second time Vaiko is being jailed for a speech supporting the Tamil Tigers. In 2002, Jayalalithaa was chief minister, who had ordered his arrest under POTA for a similar speech.

But Vaiko is unrepentant and says his stand that the LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamils, remains unchanged.

"We are second to none to defend the sovereignty and unity of India. At the same time, in the name of protecting the unity of Sri Lanka, if India gives arms support to them to perpetuate genocidal attacks, it is a betrayal of the Tamil race," said Vaiko.

Fab Four will be difficult to replace, says Jonty - ‘I’ve never seen an Aussie team let opposition off the hook’

Mumbai: Jonty Rhodes, cricket’s original fielding king, has acknowledged India’s domination of Test cricket following their comprehensive win over Australia in Mohali, but foresees challenging times ahead for the team when the Fabulous Four hang up their boots.

The former South African player, in the city on a promotional visit, said that he was surprised by the way Australians had played in the two Tests and that, perhaps, there were a few lessons from their defeat for India as well.

“The proceedings in Bangalore were an indication of what was to come in the second Test. I have never seen an Australian team get ahead and then fail to finish it off,” Rhodes told reporters at the Cricket Club of India.

“In the last 10 years of my career, I have seen that whenever the Australians get ahead, they close the door on the opposition.”

The 39-year-old Rhodes, who represented South Africa in 52 Tests and 245 ODIs, praised the Indian team, particularly the fast bowlers, but also pointed out the contribution of the senior players.

“India have been always a formidable team at home and of late they have been producing results on tours also. And the Fab Four are getting better with age like old wine,” he said.

“They are a solid team now. My only concern for India is their seniors. What happens in one year when they leave and there is a void? As Australia have showed, you can’t replace experience.”

Nevertheless, Rhodes was all praise for the India’s frontline bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.

“Indian fast bowlers are fast bowlers now. They are not there to take the shine off the new ball and make way for the spinners,” he said.

“Pakistan is known for producing genuine pacers who can do reverse swing. The Indians are getting that reputation.”

The man from Natal, who would soon be working alongside Sachin Tendulkar when he joins the IPL Mumbai team as fielding coach, was effusive in his praise of the Indian star who surpassed Brian Lara as Test cricket’s highest run-getter in Mohali.

“To have started at 16 and still be playing is an amazing effort. He has always scored runs, especially away from home, consistently. His record, both on and off the field, has been good. But I am not sure whether he would like me giving him the fielding drills,” he said with a mischievous smile.

Rhodes said the Indians should not go ga-ga over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy.

“Dhoni has captained the team for four and half days and everything he touched has turned to gold. But he could have had the Test backfire. It depends on how consistent he is in the long run,” he said.

Gilchrist questions Tendulkar's honesty

FORMER Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist is set to further inflame tension between cricket's superpowers by questioning India's sportsmanship, singling out its most revered player, Sachin Tendulkar.

Gilchrist has implied that Tendulkar is a sore loser, and has questioned his honesty during last summer's "Monkeygate" affair that soured relations between the Australian and Indian sides.

In his autobiography, an extract of which appears in tomorrow's Good Weekend, he describes as a "joke" Tendulkar's evidence at an appeal over the episode, in which Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of calling Andrew Symonds a monkey. He said that when Tendulkar told the initial hearing that he could not hear what was said, he was "certain he was telling the truth" because he was "a fair way away".

But Tendulkar told the appeal that Harbhajan used a Hindi term that sounded like "monkey" to Australian ears. Harbhajan's suspension was quashed, infuriating the Australians.

"The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness."

Gilchrist, considered one of the fairer players to represent Australia during its dominance, makes it clear he believes Harbhajan was guilty and says India's threat to abandon the tour was "a disgraceful act, holding the game to ransom unless they got their way".

He says there was a cultural difference in the way the teams approached the game. "In the Australian mentality, we play it hard and are then quick to shake hands and leave it all on the field. Some of our opponents don't do it that way. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, can be hard to find for a changing room handshake after we have beaten India. Harbhajan can also be hard to find.

"I guess it's a case of different strokes for different folks."

The comments are certain to revive ill-will between the rivals, which are in the middle of another testy series. India has taken a 1-0 lead in the series this week, with tension bubbling over and Indian bowler Zaheer Khan fined 80% of his match fee for abusing Matthew Hayden.

The book also reveals the depths of Gilchrist's feelings about the malicious whispering campaign about his private life during Australia's 2002 tour of South Africa.

He describes how he received a telephone call from his manager telling him to turn on his laptop and check his emails.

One of them linked to a website that featured an anonymous email saying his recently born son Harry had been fathered by his former teammate Michael Slater.

"At first I thought it was a prank, and had a chuckle," Gilchrist writes in True Colours. But as he re-read the email, he "got a sick feeling in my stomach". He immediately called his wife, Mel, back in Australia, who was extremely agitated and had to be "calmed down".

Before taking the field in the first Test in Johannesburg, he spotted a huge banner reading: "Baby Gilly, who's your daddy?" Next to it, another sign read: "Slater, Slater."

"This was a disgusting thing to do," Gilchrist writes. "But my initial feeling wasn't outrage. It was more a vicious stab of paranoia. It set me thinking: 'Is the whole world talking about it behind my back? Are my teammates talking about it?' "

Gilchrist describes the rumour as "preposterous nonsense".

Slater agrees: "There was absolutely nothing in it." He said the website had to make a payout, but "that didn't heal the hurt".

By the time he batted, Gilchrist was "in a terrible state". Nevertheless, he went on to score 204 not out, racking up the fastest Test double century in history. "This was the first time I cried on a cricket field," he writes.