Saturday, 23 November 2013

WTA awards for Serena Williams and Sonia Halep

Awards for Serena and Halep 

Serena Williams has been named as the WTA Player of the Year for the fifth time whilst Sonia Halep won the Most Improved Player award.
The American, the oldest world No 1 in history at 32, enjoyed one of the greatest seasons on record.
She won 78 of her 82 matches, winning the US Open, the French Open and 11 other WTA titles in the process. She also won a record $12,385,572 in prize money.
Williams said her victory at the French Open was the highlight of her year.
"Obviously the French Open was probably the thing that stands out most," she told the WTA website. "I really wanted to win that for a number of years now, so that was definitely something exciting. And also being undefeated on clay was pretty exciting too. So my results on clay this year definitely stand out.
Williams was also player of the year in 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Only Steffi Graf - with eight - has won the award more times.
Romania's rising star Halep is the WTA's Most Improved Player Of The Year.
Halep had been tipped for years to make the big time after some stellar performances in the juniors.
She is a former junior world No 1, and won grand slams at that level. But in her first three seasons on the women's tour she struggled, and was ranked No 64 going into the tournament that was to become the turning point of her year, and her career - Rome, in May.
In the Italian capital she beat Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Roberta Vinci and Jelena Jankovic - before losing to Williams in the semi-finals.
After Rome she won 39 of her 46 matches in the rest of the season, and won six titles, at N├╝rnberg, 's-Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven, Moscow and Sofia, and finished the season at No 11 in the world rankings.

Pakistan tight win over South Africa

Pakistan held on for a close six-run win in the second Twenty20 on Friday to end a six-game losing streak to South Africa in limited-overs games.
Shahid Afridi’s 3-28 backed up earlier half-centuries by Umar Akmal and captain Mohammad Hafeez as Pakistan successfully defended its 176-4 at Newlands to draw the series 1-1. Akmal made 64 and Hafeez 63 in a match-winning 102-run stand off just 55 balls after Pakistan opted to bat first and made it count.
Hashim Amla replied with 48 opening South Africa’s chase, but legspinner Afridi accounted for Quinton de Kock (26), Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers to have the hosts 87-3.
After Amla was out just short of his half-century, JP Duminy (47 not out) and David Miller were held at bay by good death bowling by Sohail Tanvir to give Pakistan a long-awaited win. South Africa finished on 170-4.
Akmal and Hafeez combined for their century stand to lift Pakistan from a slow start at 44-2. Akmal had five fours and four towering sixes in his explosive 64 off 37 balls in Pakistan’s only significant partnership. Hafeez hit five fours and three sixes for his 63 off 41 balls before he was out in the 17th over to Dale Steyn (2-29).
Akmal fell to Steyn in the last over but the damage was already done, giving the home team a tough target to chase down under lights.
Amla began brightly, stroking five fours while opening partner De Kock hit four boundaries in his 26.
Spinner Afridi changed the game, though, having De Kock and captain Du Plessis caught in the deep and then bowling De Villiers with a quicker, flatter delivery. Amla fell to Pakistan’s other spinner, Saeed Ajmal, leaving Duminy and Miller with 60 runs to get in only 27 balls.
Their unbroken 53-run stand brought South Africa close, but Tanvir held his nerve in the final over to concede just six runs off the first five deliveries, clinching just a second win for Pakistan in nine limited-overs games against the South Africans.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Sharapova appoints Groeneveld as coach

Sharapova appoints Groeneveld as coach

Four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has hired Sven Groeneveld as her new coach for the 2014 season.

The Russian world number four made the announcement on her Facebook page on Thursday after being without a coach since parting ways with Jimmy Connors in August.

Connors lasted just a month after joining the 26-year-old following the Wimbledon tournament in July.
Groeneveld has previously worked with other top players in Monica Seles, Mary Pierce and Ana Ivanovic.

Sharapova withdrew from the US Open with a shoulder injury and has not played since.

She is scheduled to return to competition at the Brisbane International tournament as she finalises her preparations for the Australian Open, the year`s first grand slam.

Pakistan beat South Africa by six runs in second T20 international to level series at 1-1

Pakistan sealed a thrilling six-run victory to level the second and final Twenty20 international against South Africa at Newlands on Friday.
With the hosts needing 17 runs to win off the final over, chasing Pakistan's 176-4, fast bowler Sohail Tanveer kept them at bay to help the tourists snap a six-game losing streak against their opponents.
Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal went on a six-hitting spree in a brilliant 102-run stand partnership as Pakistan piled up an impressive total in their innings.
Hafeez hit 63 off 41 balls with three sixes and Akmal hammered 64 off 38 deliveries with four sixes.
Pakistan captain Hafeez and Akmal put on 102 off just 57 balls for the third wicket as the South African bowlers were put to the sword.
The innings gained momentum when Wayne Parnell was no-balled and Hafeez slammed the free hit over the square leg fence for the first six.
Hafeez hit two successive straight sixes off left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso before Akmal followed suit in an over which cost 21 runs.
Three overs later Morne Morkel conceded 22 runs in an over during which Akmal hit 16 off three deliveries.
Hashim Amla made 48 opening South Africa's chase, but legspinner Shahid Afridi took 3-28, accounting for Quinton de Kock (26), Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers to leave the Proteas on 87-3.
After Amla was out just short of his half-century, JP Duminy (47 not out) and David Miller were held by good death bowling by Tanvir.
The side's will next take to the field on Sunday in the first of three one-day internationals.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

World Chess Championship: Carlsen defeats Anand in game 9, extends lead to 6-3

World Chess Championship: Carlsen defeats Anand in game 9, extends lead to 6-3 

Defending champion Viswanathan Anand was put under tremendous pressure by Norwegian Magnus Carlsen who won the ninth game of the World Chess Championship on Thursday to take a 6-3 lead in the tournament.

Carlsen now needs just .5 points to seal the tournament. Carlsen has won three matches in the tournament and is on the verge of winning the World Championship.

Prior to this match, Viswanathan Anand was trailing 3-5 to the 22-year-old with just four games remaining in their World Championship title clash. 

The fans were hoping for a turnaround in the ninth game which was to an extent dominated by the Indian veteran. 

In the ninth game, Anand who was playing with white pieces missed out on several chances and suffered a shocking defeat that almost sealed the fate of the match.

The 22-year-old Norwegian went for a Nimzo Indian defense as black and Anand, who knew this was his last chance for a strike, went for the Saemisch variation.

Anand had used this system before, in World Championship match against Kramnik and later in a gem of a match against Wang Hao of China.

South Africa beat Pakistan in rain-hit 1st T20I at Wanderers

South Africa beat Pakistan in rain-hit T20I at Wanderers

 A surprise bowling change brought a key wicket and was a crucial factor as South Africa beat Pakistan in a rain-affected first Twenty20 international at the Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday.
Rain ended an intriguing chase  from Pakistan and handed South Africa a four-run victory via the Duckworth/Lewis scoring system in the first Twenty20 international in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Quinton de Kock top-scored with 43 as South Africa posted 153 for seven in their 20 overs having been put into bat by Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez at the Wanderers.
The visitors had reached 60 for two in 9.1 overs when the heavens opened and ended the game with the sub-continent side needing a further 94 to win from 65 balls.
The second and final Twenty20 international will be played in Cape Town on Friday.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pakistan bowls in opening T20 in South Africa

 Pakistan won the toss and will bowl first in the tour-opening Twenty20 game in South Africa on Wednesday.
The familiar rivals will play two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals, which follows on immediately from South Africa's visit to the United Arab Emirates.
South Africa won both the ODI and T20 series in the UAE, while the test series was drawn 1-1.
Pakistan has injury problems for the opening game of the return series at Johannesburg's Wanderers and gave allrounder Bilawal Bhatti his international debut.
South Africa rested one-day captain AB de Villiers but recalled fast bowler Morne Morkel.
Wednesday's start was delayed for around half an hour for rain but there was no reduction in overs.

Pakistan Team: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali.
South African Team: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Henry Davids, JP Duminy, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Imran Tahir.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

New Zealand-Sri Lanka T20 game cancelled due to rain

New Zealand-Sri Lanka T20 game cancelled due to rain

Bad weather forced the first Twenty20 international between New Zealand and Sri Lanka to be abandoned without a ball being bowled in Pallekele on Tuesday.

Heavy rain since early morning drenched the Pallekele International Stadium and forced the umpires to call off the match at 8.45 pm (1515 GMT) when the weather did not clear.

The second match is also scheduled to be played in Pallekele on Thursday.

The preceding one-day series was shared 1-1 with one match rained off.

Prashanth shocks fourth seed, smooth start for Jeevan

Prashanth shocks fourth seed, smooth start for Jeevan

N Vijay Sundar Prashanth knocked out German fourth seed Torsten Wietoska in the first round of the USD 15,000 ITF Futures tournament, here on Monday.

Prashanth scored a 6-3 7-6(6) win over Wietoska, who had reached the semifinals last week in New Delhi.

It was a smooth start for top seed Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan as he beat Arjun Kadhe 6-4 6-3 in his first round.

National champion Mohit Mayur Jayaraksh laboured to a 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 7-5 win over Luca Margaroli.

Meanwhile, qualifier Shahikh Abdullah sent packing Ashwin Vijayragavan 2-6 6-4 6-2 to move to the second round.

Ashwin though tasted success in the doubles as he and his fourth seed partner Ramkumar Ramanathan beat Indo-American combine of Ajai Selvaraj and Amrit Narasimhan 7-5 6-3.
Selvaraj`s singles campaign has also ended as he lost to 6-7 (5) 3-6 to Jatin Dahiya.

Ashwin and Ramkumar had ended runners-up last week in New Delhi.

Akash Wagh ousted Duck Hee Lee 6-2 6-4 Jatin Dahiya while Chadnrol Sood lost 2-6 6-7 (4) to fellow qualifier Jannis Liniger from Switzerland.

Second seed N Sriram Balaji, last week`s finalist, will open his campaign against qualfier Lakshit Sood.

Vishnu Vardhan, who had lost to Balaji in the semifinals, faces wild card Aaditya Tewari in his first round.

Tough task for Indian shuttlers in Hong Kong

Tough task for Indian shuttlers in Hong Kong 

 Indian shuttlers will be facing tough early rounds when the $350,000 Hong Kong Open Super Series kicks off at the Hong Kong Coliseum here on Tuesday.

India`s two shuttle queens -- seventh seed Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu -- will be facing difficult challenges in their women`s singles campaign.

World No.7 Saina is still without a title this year and recent form has also seen her lose out very early in competition.

In the eastern city state, she will take on old Indonesian rival Belaetrix Manuputi in the first round over whom the Indian has a 2-0 career record. The Hyderabadi is expected to move in to the quarterfinals where she will likely face Olympic champion and reigning World No.1 Li Xuerui of China.

World No.10 Sindhu, on the other hand, faces another a tough challenge in the face of second seed and World No.2 Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, against whom the Indian has a 0-2 deficit.

In men`s singles, K. Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram and Parupalli Kashyap will spearhead the Indian challenge.

Srikanth will have to play out of his skin to proceed further in the tournament as he takes on World No.1 and top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the first round.

Kashyap, on the other hand, has China`s Zhengming Wang up his sleeve in the first round and if he manages to beat the Chinese then it will be another Chinese in second seed Chen Long.

Jayaram also has an onerous match on his head as he takes on Vietnam`s seventh seed Tien Minh Nguyen in the first round.

Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar will represent India in men`s doubles while it will be the regular pair of Tarun Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa in mixed doubles.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Former British No 1 Elena Baltacha has announced her retirement from tennis.

Elena Baltacha: Retiring from tennis

Baltacha broke into the world top 50 in 2010 and has enjoyed victories over a number of top players including Li Na and Francesca Schiavone.
The 30-year-old reached the third round of the Australian Open on two occasions as well as the same stage of Wimbledon, in 2002, and was also a regular in Britain's Fed Cup team.
But having struggled for form and fitness in recent years, she has decided to retire to open a tennis academy with her coach Nino Severino.
"It just feels it's the right time" Baltacha told the Lawn Tennis Association's (LTA) official website.
"My body has taken such a bruising over the last 16 years and that's finally taken its toll.
"I have had some amazing experiences through playing tennis and I wouldn't change any of them but now my mind and my body are telling me it's time to move on to a new phase of my life.

South Africa, Pakistan to clash again

South Africa, Pakistan to clash again

After completing a Five days series in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Pakistan square up again in a Twenty20 international at the Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday.

It is the third tour featuring South Africa and Pakistan this year. The Pakistanis played three Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals in South Africa between January and March. In a reciprocal tour which ended last Friday, the two nations clashed in two Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals in the United Arab Emirates.

The tour will serve a double purpose for South Africa. It will reduce the estimated loss of an estimated more than US$10-million caused by the curtailment of the India tour - four one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games were cut from the original itinerary - and it will enable the host country`s limited overs teams to continue to work towards the elusive goal of winning a global tournament.

Although South Africa`s Test team are the undisputed world champions, both the Twenty20 and one-day sides have had mediocre records in recent times. Both made considerable progress in the UAE, where South Africa won the one-day series 4-1 and the Twenty20 series 2-0.

Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan`s T20 captain, said in an arrival press conference on Sunday that his players were heartened by their showing in South Africa earlier in the year when they won the only completed 20-overs game and extended South Africa before losing the one-day series 3-2, with their batsmen performing better than they did in the UAE.

Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore, whose contract will not be renewed when it expires in February, hailed the emergence of the hard-hitting Sohaib Maqsood as a positive from the recent series. But Pakistan will hope for improved form the likes of Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal.

Pakistan will be without tall left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, one of their better bowlers in the recent series. He suffered a hip injury in the last match in the UAE.

South Africa named an unchanged squad for the two Twenty20 games. A squad for the one-day internationals will be named later in the week. It is widely expected that veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis will be included. Kallis has not played in a one-day international since February 2012.

South African Squad:
South Africa (T20 squad): Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.

Pakistani Squad:
Pakistan (tour squad): Mohammad Hafeez (T20 captain), Misbah-ul-Haq (ODI captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal (wkt), Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Bilawal Bhatti.

Schedule in November:

Wednesday 20: First Twenty20 international, Johannesburg

Friday 22: Second Twenty20 international, Cape Town

Sunday 24: First one-day international, Cape Town

Wednesday 27: Second one-day international, Port Elizabeth

Saturday 30: Third one-day international, Centurion

Czech Republic beat Serbia to retain Davis Cup

Czech Republic beat Serbia to retain Davis Cup

The Czech Republic won their second successive Davis Cup title after Radek Stepanek beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-1 6-1 to give them a 3-2 victory against the 2010 champions Serbia on Sunday.

Serbia`s world number two Novak Djokovic levelled the tie earlier in the day with a straight-sets win over Tomas Berdych, but the passionate home fans were silenced by a cool performance from Stepanek who gave the 117th-ranked Lajovic no chance in the decisive rubber.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Sachin Tendulkar with his family during his farewell ceremony at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai

Sachin with his wife Anjli, daughter Sara and son Arju


Sachin with his wife Anjli

Viswanathan Anand loses again, trails 2-4 in World Chess Championship

Viswanathan Anand loses again, trails 2-4 in World Chess Championship

World champion Viswanathan Anand struggled once again with his white pieces and suffered a painful defeat against challenger Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the sixth game of the World Chess Championship here on Saturday.

After a shocking loss from a drawn position in the fifth game, Anand looked prepared to strike back but the Berlin defense yet again came in his way as Carlsen demonstrated his superior skills on the board once more in a drawn endgame to beat the world champion.

The Indian is now at a make-or-break situation and the next game will be most crucial to the final outcome of the match. As things stand, after six games and half way through, Carlsen leads the match 4-2, needing just 2.5 points more from next six to become the next world champion.

Anand had his hopes pinned on the king pawn but the Berlin defense has troubled the best players in the world in the last decade.

Team Anand had not found anything in the main line and it was evident from the fact that Anand went for the closed Ruy Lopez, often a simple reprieve when one wants to avoid the intricacies of the Berlin defense. Anand decided to try his chances in the middle game arising out a close variation.

Carlsen was game for it if the opening and middle game was any indication. The Norwegian gave nothing away and by the 20th move it was a level position on board for Anand with not much to look upto.

However the match situation suggested otherwise, Anand had to play on for a win and that`s what he decided to do, unfortunately the plan boomeranged.

Carlsen, with his immaculate understanding of almost all kind of positions, neutralized white`s initiative in the middle game and when a queen and rook with pawns endgame arose on the board, it was already clear that the Norwegian was calling the shots.

France in danger, Ronaldo edges Portugal towards finals


France's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals are hanging by a thread after a 2-0 first-leg defeat away to Ukraine in their playoff on Friday while Cristiano Ronaldo's late winner gave Portugal the edge against Sweden.
Ten-man Iceland battled to 0-0 home draw with Croatia in Reykjavic to keep alive their dream of qualifying for a first major tournament while Greece will be confident of finishing off Romania next week after a 3-1 victory in Athens.
Of the eight European nations in the last-chance saloon after missing out on automatic passage to next year's tournament in Brazil, France are the worst placed going into next week's second legs after a miserable night in Kiev.
Second-half goals by Ukraine's Roman Zozulia and Andriy Yarmolenko and a red card for France defender Laurent Koscielny made it a night to forget for Didier Deschamps' side who need a vast improvement in Paris on Tuesday to repair the damage.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Aamir Khan, Lara extend best wishes to Tendulkar

Lara, Aamir Khan extend best wishes to Tendulkar

West Indian cricket icon Brian Lara and Bollywood star Aamir Khan extended their best wishes to `Master Blaster` Sachin Tendulkar, as he wears the `National Blue` for the last time for his 200th Test match on home turf.

Lara said: "I want Sachin to get a lot of runs in this match. But I would also like to see West Indies victory. I would also like to congratulate and (wish) good luck to Shivnarain Chanderpaul ( West Indies cricketer) for his 150th Test match. It is a wonderful occasion, a momentous occasion, and I am happy to be here."

Aamir Khan said: "It is the most exciting day for all of us. India will not be batting today, so everyone is a bit disappointed. But, we will be able to see Sachin play tomorrow. I will definitely be coming tomorrow to see Sachin play. I will not miss it for anything."

Among thousands of Tendulkar fans, Mumbai`s famed `Dabbawalla`s said that the country is proud to have a cricket star like Tendulkar, and as a token of love, our association wants to present him with a Gandhi cap and special lunch box.

Former Indian cricketer, Kirti Azad said: "We have seen him (Sachin Tendulkar) for the past 25 years, and after he retires, it will be very painful for all of us, as he has made us proud many a times. I hope he makes us proud again and scores a double century in his 200th Test match."

Tendulkar is finishing a glittering 24-year career at his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Emotions are running high among cricket fans across India, and many are celebrating his farewell to cricket in their own unique way.

Tendulkar made his debut for India against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989 as a curly-haired 16-year-old. He has scored the most runs in Tests and one-day cricket and his 51 Test centuries and 49 ODI hundreds are also records.

Saina, Kashyap shown the door in China

Saina, Kashyap shown the door in China

Indians suffered a disappointing day at the China Open Super Series Premier with star shuttler Saina Nehwal and Arundhati Pantawane going down in the women’s singles second round while Parupalli Kashyap lost in the men’s singles competition here on Thursday.

While Saina lost 21-16, 15-21, 17-21 to unseeded Sun Yu of China, Arundhati was defeated 13-21, 10-21 by third seed Wang Yihan, also of China. 

Kashyap was defeated 11-21, 12-21 by Kento Momota of Japan.

Saina, who was hoping to win her first trophy of the season, started off well enough coming back from an early 4-1 deficit to dominate the opening game.

But it was a completely different story in the second game as Sun opened up a 3-0 lead and maintained the advantage right till the end to even up the score.

The third and final game was an exciting affair with both players going for broke. Sania put up good a fight, winning three consecutive points to draw level at 8-8 before the Chinese came up with an incredible seven-point streak to lead 15-8.

The Hyderabad girl was in no mood to go down without a fight and produced a seven-point streak of her own to draw level yet again at 15-15. However, Sun had the last laugh, taking four points on the trot to wrap up the match. Sun will now face compatriot and top seed Li Xuerui in the quarter-finals.

Women’s singles: 6-Saina Nehwal lost to Sun Yu (Chn) 21-16, 15-21, 17-21; Arundhati Pantawane lost to Wang Yihan (Chn) 13-21, 10-21.

Men’s singles: Parupalli Kashyap lost to Kento Momota (Jpn) 11-21, 12-21.

Portugal and France face World Cup moment of truth

The battle for the final four European places for the 2014 World Cup finals get underway on Friday with France and Portugal battling to join the likes of fellow continental heavyweights holders Spain and Germany in Brazil.
Portugal, led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, have the toughest play-off as they face Sweden, who have their own icon in Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading their line.
Former champions France travel to Kiev to play Ukraine and will be hoping if they qualify it will not be in the controversial manner they did for the 2010 finals where the decisive goal against Ireland in their play-off was set up by Thierry Henry's infamous handball.
The other two play-offs pit goal-shy Greece against Romania while the fairytale could be provided by Iceland, bidding to become the smallest country to ever qualify for the finals, as they host 1998 semi-finalists Croatia.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento, who guided the side to last year's Euro semi-finals, knows expectations are high.
Many neutrals are disappointed that one of Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic will miss out on Brazil, but the PSG striker says his team deserve their place in the hat when the World Cup finals draw takes place on December 6 at Mata de Sao Joao.
Portugal are probably favourites given their team and their individuals, but we came second in a group featuring Germany and we deserve to go to Brazil more.” added the Sweden skipper. Ukraine will host a France side in danger of missing out on its first World Cup finals since 1994 and keen also to erase memories of their catastrophic appearance at the 2010 edition both on and off the pitch where the players ended up refusing to train.
France coach Didier Deschamps -- who in 1998 became the first French captain to lift the World Cup trophy as they beat Brazil in Paris -- said his players were in the right frame of mind to overcome Ukraine.
Romania are bidding to qualify for the first time since 1998 as they travel to Greece, who scored just 12 goals in 10 group games, in what could well be a finely balanced duel.
Iceland's surprising run to the play-offs has been due in large part to the calming and knowledgeable influence of experienced Swedish coach Lars Lagerback, who coached the Swedes at two World Cup finals.

Tendulkar - One last time

A deafening roar greeted Sachin Tendulkar on Thursday as he walked out to a guard of honour in his farewell Test at his home ground. Tendulkar's 200th Test match, against West Indies, at the Wankhede Stadium will also be his last, as the 'Little Master' brings the curtain down on a glittering 24-year career at the age of 40. The Indian government released two commemorative stamps, while local organisers used a specially minted coin to mark the occasion as Tendulkar led the team on to the ground. Tendulkar's last international game has been built up as an opportunity for fans to show their love for one of the greatest cricket players of all time. And that's exactly how it has started out. Thousands of adoring fans filed into the stadium on Thursday, many with their faces painted in the colors of the Indian flag and with either “Sachin” or “200” written on their foreheads to commemorate his 200th and last test match.

South Africa beat Pakistan in first Twenty20

South Africa beat Pakistan with a commanding nine wicket in the first Twenty20 international in Dubai on Wednesday to go 1-0 up in the two-match series.
Dale Steyn took 3-15 in his four hostile overs as Pakistan were restricted to 98-9 -- their lowest Twenty20 total against South Africa -- after they won the toss and opted to bat.
South Africa easily reached the target in 14.3 overs with opener Quinton de Kock hitting a 38-ball 48 not out while skipper Faf du Plessis made an unbeaten 37 knocking off the runs without being troubled by Pakistan's spin-packed attack.
The second and final Twenty20 will also be played in Dubai on Friday.
De Kock hit three boundaries and two sixes off 38 balls while Du Plessis hit four boundaries and a six off 40 deliveries as South Africa made short work of their opponents.
Du Plessis was impressed with how his bowlers had set up the victory.
“The wicket was quite dry and our bowlers have been putting their batsmen under pressure.
Pakistan's batsmen once again failed to fire just as they did in the 4-1 one day international series defeat.
Umar Akmal with a 41-ball 49 was the only batsman to put up any resistance in an otherwise chaotic batting display in which four batsmen failed to score after Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat.
Paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe chipped in with two wickets for the cost of just nine runs in his four tight overs, while Dale Steyn chipped in with two early wickets as Pakistan were reeling at 4-3.
Umar added 29 for the sixth wicket with Abdul Razzaq who made 10, before finally getting run out. He hit four boundaries and a six.
Shoaib Malik made 12 while Shahid Afridi scored ten.
Paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Imran Tahir took two wickets apiece.
Pakistan's previous lowest T20 total against South Africa was 119 which they made at Abu Dhabi in 2010.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Whatmore to leave as Pakistan coach in February

Pakistani coach Dav Whatmore will leave his job at the end of February, the country's cricket board said Tuesday, saying a mutual agreement had been reached not to extend his contract.
The 59-year-old former Australian batsman, who took over in March 2012, has faced mounting criticism over Pakistan's dismal run of results in recent months, with ex-players regularly calling for him to go.
Pakistan went down by 117 runs to South Africa in Sharjah on Monday, completing a 4-1 defeat in their one-day series.
The Proteas have given Pakistan a torrid time in 2013, beating them 3-0 in Tests and 3-2 in one-day internationals in South Africa in February-March.
Under Whatmore, who led Sri Lanka to their World Cup victory in 1996, Pakistan have not won a single Test series and the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) interim chairman admitted on Friday he was under pressure to sack him.
But the board said Whatmore had decided not to seek an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of February.
“Whatmore had informed the PCB that he would not be seeking a renewal of his contract due to his personal and family reasons,” said a PCB release.
“Under the circumstances, the PCB and Whatmore have mutually agreed to conclude the contract on February 28, 2014.”
Whatmore's last assignment will be a series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates in December-January.
Former paceman and coach Waqar Younis and former captain Moin Khan are in the running to replace him.

Spanish duo upset Bryan brothers in London finale

Spanish duo upset Bryan brothers in London finale

American duo Bob and Mike Bryan`s incredible year ended in disappointment when they were beaten by Spain`s Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero in the ATP Tour Finals doubles final on Monday.

Verdasco and Marrero, the sixth seeds, upset the favourites 7-5 6-7(3) 10-7 as the title went to a Spanish pair for the second successive year following the triumph of Marcel Granollers and Mark Lopez 12 months ago.

The Californian Bryan twins were looking to win their 12th title of 2013 and surpass the 11 they won in 2007 and 2010, but the world`s top-ranked pair were edged out in a match tiebreak.

They did at least end the year at No. 1 for a ninth time in 11 seasons having won the first three majors of 2013 before their "calendar" grand slam hopes ended at the U.S. Open where they lost in the semi-finals.

Monday, 11 November 2013

5th ODI: South Africa Beat Pakistan By 115 Runs, Win Series 4-1

Pakistan was defeated by South Africa in fifth One-day International to give the Proteas 4-1 lead in the five match series here on Wednesday.

De Villiers scored 115 from 102 balls with ten boundaries and three sixes, his 15th one-day hundred, to lift South Africa to an imperious 268-7 before bowling Pakistan out for 151 in 35.3 overs.
Sohaib Maqsood top-scored with a solid 53 but otherwise Pakistan failed to capitalise on a weakened South African bowling attack, with spearheads Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, and spinner Imran Tahir rested for the meaningless match as the series had already been decided.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq rued another batting failure.
Pakistan were 8-2 with Ahmed Shehzad (two) and Mohammad Hafeez (six) by the fifth over, once again highlighting their top-order failure in the series.
It was Maqsood, who hit 56 on his debut in Abu Dhabi on Friday, who gave some consolation to another lackluster batting effort with a 63-ball half-century before he became one of two victims for Jean-Paul Duminy, who finished with 2-14. Wayne Parnell finished with 3-36.
Umar Akmal made 30 while Misbah managed 18. Shahid Afridi (nine) and Umar Amin (five) failed once more as South Africa took the last six wickets for a mere 41 runs.
South Africa won the toss and batted on a slow Sharjah stadium pitch.
De Villiers lifted the tempo in the final overs, hitting Sohail Tanvir's final over for 25 runs, reaching his hundred with a four towards mid-wicket, which came off 99 balls. He then hit the left-armer for six, four and four to help South Africa add 114 in the last ten overs.
At 105 he also completed 6,000 one-day runs, becoming the fifth South African batsmen to reach the milestone. Jacques Kallis (11,469), Herschelle Gibbs (8094), Graeme Smith (6976) and Gary Kirsten (6798) were others to score 6,000 or more one-day runs for South Africa.
De Villiers was initially slow, reaching his fifty off 70 balls, with a big six off Saeed Ajmal towards mid-wicket. He added an invaluable 83 for the sixth wicket with Ryan McLaren (27) before lashing out in the final overs.
De Villiers had built the innings with an invaluable 62-run stand for the fourth wicket with Faf du Plessis, who made an 89-ball 46 with the help of two boundaries.
Quinton de Kock (34) added 50 with Du Plessis after Hashim Amla fell in the first over of the innings for three. Ajmal finished with 3-45 while Khan took 2-57.
South Africa won the first match by one run in Sharjah before Pakistan levelled the series with a 66-run win in Dubai. South Africa then won both the matches in Abu Dhabi by 68 and 28 runs respectively.

Website selling tickets for Tendulkar’s farewell Test crashes

Can Sachin Tendulkar bid goodbye to cricket on a high?

The website selling tickets for Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell Test here that starts from Thursday crashed few minutes after the start of the sale on Monday.

KyaZoonga.Com is the Official Ticketing Partner of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) for the second Test between India and West Indies, the 200th and final Test of batting legend Tendulkar.

Commenting on the occasion, PV Shetty and Nitin Dalal, joint secretaries of MCA said: "In keeping with MCA`s tradition of making access to international cricket as easy, safe and democratic as possible, we have made tickets available online.”

"On this historic occasion of the final Test match of our local cricket legend and global icon Sachin Tendulkar, we`re thrilled to appoint KyaZoonga in this crucial role, given their impressive ticketing track record, world class ticketing services and previous experience with cricket ticketing in the Indian subcontinent.”

"Their service delivery over the last several matches including the ICC CWC 2011 hosted by Mumbai make them the natural choice to deliver our objectives to fans. We look forward to a full house," the MCA said in a statement.

Neetu Bhatia, chairman and CEO of KyaZoonga.Com added: "We are incredibly proud and excited to be continuing our long-standing partnership with MCA in ticketing all their hosted matches, especially as it prepares to host the final Test of the local hero Sachin Tendulkar."

The prices of the tickets are Rs 500, Rs 1000 and Rs 2500. Only two tickets per person can be booked online. 

Pakistan wins Asian Champions Trophy

Defending champion, Pakistan, on Sunday retained its title defeating host Japan by a margin of two goals in the final match of the third Asian Champions Trophy field hockey tournament being played in Japan's Kakamighara city.
The Japanese team took an aggressive start scoring one goal to take the lead in the first half.
Pakistan replied with a comeback in the second half scoring three goals before the 66th minute.
The green-shirts had remained unbeaten in the tournament defeating Omman, Malaysia, China and India in the group stage matches.
The previous match played between Pakistan and Japan, during the group stages, had ended in a 1-1 draw.
Malaysia secured the third position in the tournament.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

World Chess Championship

World Chess Championship: Game one between Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen ends in draw

In the much hyped match, Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen shared points after their first round game ended in a draw on Saturday.

Anand who was playing with black pieces drew the first game with Carlsen who hails from Norway.

The competition between the two class players is believed to be the most high-profile clash in chess history in more than 40 years. 

The experts have been comparing the tournament with the historic clash between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972. The two players took on each other in the opening game at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. In total, 12 games will be played between the duo in a tournament that will end on November 28.

Anand, who has won World Championship matches in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, is used to open with black pieces in World Championship matches.

Michael Clarke has dismissed the idea of retiring

Australian captain Michael Clarke has dismissed the idea of being driven into retirement by a degenerative back problem and believes he could play three more Ashes series over the next five years.
Clarke will start his sixth Ashes series on Nov. 21, but with the back problem certain to return at some point and his captaincy the subject of a media debate, there has been speculation he might soon call time on his test career.
“I won't be retiring, not for a long time,” the 32-year-old told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.
“I feel as fit and healthy as I've been for a long time and my love and drive to have success and be a part of this Australian team and New South Wales team is as strong as ever.
“As long as I'm performing, I think I've got a good four or five years left in me.”
There has been little wrong with his performances with the bat in the two years since Clarke took up the captaincy.
Although his record against England (1,746 runs at an average of 46 per innings) does not quite match up to his overall stats (7,656 runs at 52), Australian cricket fans will be delighted their best batsman is going nowhere.
Another five years would take Clarke through the 2015 tour of England as well as the 2017-18 series Down Under and to an age close to that of his predecessor Ricky Ponting when the Tasmanian retired.
“My love of the game is stronger than it has ever been. The older you get, the more you experience the highs and lows,” Clarke said.
“It makes you enjoy the good times and enjoy the wins, and also realise that when you're not winning hard work will turn that around.
After losing the last Ashes played in Australia 3-1 in 2010-11 and going down 3-0 in England just a few months ago, Clarke's team are in the rare position of going into a home series as underdogs.

Roger Federer fightback to reach the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour

Roger Federer staged a superb fightback to reach the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday.
Federer had only once failed to reach the last four in 11 previous appearances at the season-ending event and he recovered from a set and a break down, and then 3-0 down in the final set, to subdue the Argentine fourth seed and maintain his impressive record.
The six-time Tour Finals champion qualified in second place in Group B behind defending champion Novak Djokovic and will face world number one Rafael Nadal in Sunday's semi-finals at London's O2 Arena.
“A lot of coming from behind, trying to get back into the match, and it was amazing that I was able to pull it off,” Federer said.
“I could never play free flowing tennis. I fought hard, maybe got a bit lucky at times.”
After a disappointing year saw his ranking tumble to seventh in the world, Federer remains in with a chance of finishing the season on a high with a fourth successive appearance in the final of the Tour Finals.
“I don't get a day off, I've got to back it up and be ready to go again tomorrow,” Federer added ahead of the 32nd instalment of his epic rivalry with Nadal.
“I'll try to make his life a bit difficult.”
Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam winner, had beaten del Potro in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters last week, one of 14 victories in 19 previous meetings with the Argentine.
But del Potro got the better of the Swiss great in the Basel final last month and famously beat him in the 2009 US Open final.
Del Potro earned three break points in Federer's opening service game and converted the third when the 32-year-old drove a forehand wide.
Del Potro broke again for a 4-1 lead when Federer blew a 40-0 advantage before tamely netting with a forehand from the baseline on break point.
Federer managed to get one of the breaks back and reduced the gap to 4-5, but it wasn't enough as del Potro held his nerve, staving off two more break points before to closing out the set.
It was Del Potro who remained on top at the start of the second set and he broke for a 3-1 lead after Federer drove a lacklustre backhand into the net.
But Federer then sprang to life, earning three break points in the sixth game and taking the first of them thanks to a del Potro double-fault.
That came in the midst of run of 12 successive points for Federer as the momentum swung toward the Swiss, who levelled the match with a dominant display in the tie-break.
Federer made a sluggish start to the decider and once more del Potro capitalised, breaking en route to a 3-0 lead.
But remarkably del Potro again couldn't hold on as Federer roared back with a break in the fifth game and then landed another to move 6-5 ahead.

Friday, 8 November 2013

4th ODI: Steyn, De Kock guide South Africa to 28-run win over Pakistan

Dale Steyn returned his best one-day bowling figures while opener Quinton de Kock hit a maiden hundred as South Africa beat Pakistan by 28 runs in the fourth day-night international in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Steyn (5-25) derailed Pakistan in the 47th over with the wickets of Umar Akmal (22), captain Misbah-ul Haq (65) and Saeed Ajmal (0) to wreck the opposition from 228-5 to 238 all out in 49.2 overs.
South Africa's win gave them an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series ahead of the fifth and final match in Sharjah on Monday.
South Africa won the first match by one run in Sharjah and third in Abu Dhabi by 68 runs while Pakistan claimed the second match in Dubai by 66 runs.
With Misbah and Umar at the crease, and with 41 needed in five overs, Pakistan looked set to level the series but Steyn improved on his previous best of 5-50 against India at Nagpur in 2011 to help South Africa snatch an unexpected win, like they did in the first match.
Misbah, along with debutant Sohaib Maqsood (56), put Pakistan in charge but Steyn removed Maqsood in the 37th over to give his team a sniff of the victory.
When Misbah holed out, after hitting four boundaries and a six off 76 balls, Pakistan's hopes were suddenly dashed.
“I am very happy and proud of the boys with this series win away from home, especially after a really bad show in Sri Lanka,” said South Africa captain AB de Villiers whose team lost their last series 4-1 in Sri Lanka in July.
“Quinton is a serious talent for the future in South Africa. Nice to have Steyn in the team, he has that killer instinct.”Misbah said Steyn's devastating over had changed the game.
“We were in a good position until the last five overs. We had two set batsmen and the equation was 30 balls, 41 runs which was gettable but Steyn's over put pressure on us,” said Misbah.
Pakistan had raced to 74 without loss in a cautious start before they lost three wickets in the space of 12 runs.
In the 19th over, Ahmed Shehzad was run out for 43 as he failed to reach the striker's end after Mohammad Hafeez went for a sharp single. He hit five boundaries and a six off 59 balls.
It became 85-2 when leg-spinner Imran Tahir bowled Hafeez (33) and a run later Asad Shafiq miscued a drive and was caught off paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe for just one.
Misbah and Maqsood went on the attack, with the debutant hitting two huge sixes off Tahir.
Maqsood, likened to former Pakistan batting master Inzamam-ul Haq, reached his half-century with a superb flick off paceman Morne Morkel for his fifth boundary. In all he hit six boundaries and two sixes off 54 balls.
But he played one shot too many and was smartly caught at deep mid-off by AB de Villiers off Steyn who also had Sohail Tanvir for one.
Quinton de Kock anchored the South African innings. The 20-year-old left-hander made the most of a dropped catch at slip by Hafeez off Tanvir when he had made only two.
He went on to make a 135-ball 112 to bolster the South African innings who had won the toss and batted.
De Kock lifted lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan over long-on for a big six to reach the three-figure mark off 127 balls, anchoring the innings with a 87-run opening stand with Hashim Amla (46) and another 69 for the third wicket with skipper De Villiers who made a 40-ball 30.
In all, De Kock hit nine boundaries and a six during his attractive knock before he and De Villiers fell in succession to paceman Junaid Khan who finished with 2-42.
Ryan McLaren (28) and Jean-Paul Duminy (25) added a quickfire 52 for the unbroken sixth wicket stand, hitting two sixes off Saeed Ajmal's 49th over.