Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/ Verona patron Maurizio Setti claims his club have been made a “scapegoat” as their chief operating officer is “perplexed” by the partial stadium ban for racism. The FIGC ruled on Monday that part of Verona’s curva would be closed for their next game after fans racially abused Mario Balotelli during their 2-1 win against Brescia at the weekend. “We’ve been made a scapegoat,” Setti told Rainews24. The Gialloblu reacted by giving an 11-year ban to ultras leader Luca Castellini, who claimed the racism was all “in Balotelli’s head” and repeatedly referred to him as ‘n***o’ in a controversial interview. Director Francesco Barresi told Sky Sport Italia: “It’s a decision we took after careful consideration on Monday. “We’ve never tolerated and will never tolerate this type of behaviour, while fighting any form of discrimination. “We proceeded to take this measure because the principles and values that the club expects from any of its stakeholders proved to be alien to the subject in question. “As for the section of our curva being closed off, it’s a decision that’s just been made aware to us: we’ll evaluate the action taken and then decide how to move. “However, I must say that the measure leaves us perplexed and even amazed, given we consider it very harsh, especially if we were to identify those few subjects, as specified by the FIGC judge, in the context of a sector that holds thousands of fans. “We want to see this thing through because we believe it isn’t correct to punish an entire sector because of a few individuals, whom we’re trying to identify, to protect the many people and families that have been supporting Hellas Verona for many years.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has declared he is “very fit”, despite Juventus’ insistence that he has been nursing a knee injury. Ronaldo was brought off in each of Juve’s last two games due to an apparent problem with his knee. However, Maurizio Sarri’s decision to substitute him against Milan was not taken well by the No 7, who allegedly left the stadium midway through the 1-0 win. Furthermore, Portugal CT Fernando Santos and international teammate Goncalo Paciencia have since argued that their talisman is working without any problems. “To open this news bulletin, we can give this news: the captain is well, very well,” the 34-year-old told reporters. “Not only am I fine, but I can say that I am very fit too. The balance sheet is definitely positive. Now you can interview others!” The Selecao will book their place at Euro 2020 with victory over Lithuania this evening. Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/
The Indians are likely to field their first-choice team when they take on Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in their second and final warm-up game in Canberra on Monday with the focus on the fitness of their fast bowlers ahead of the fourmatch Test series, starting December 26.With the injury scare to Ishant Sharma, who is likely to be rested, the focus will be on Zaheer Khan – also returning from injury after playing just a couple of Ranji matches.While the area of concern in the Indian ranks would be Ishant Sharma’s injured ankle, the Australian team management would be keeping a tab on the form of Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja before the real action begins.India team sources insist it would be a precautionary rest for Ishant, but questions over his availability are likely to linger till the morning of the first Test in Melbourne on December 26.In the first practice game, the Indian bowlers were taken to cleaners by Tom Cooper and Co as the Chairman’s XI scored 398 for six in a day.However, Sachin Tendulkar’s fluent 92 and VVS Laxman’s halfcentury gave some assurances to the visitors.Monday’s match would offer a first outing to the likes of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.Sehwag will be a big draw, fresh from his record double century in One- day Internationals. He would have fond memory of the Manuka Oval where he thumped century during the 2007-08 tour that paved his return to Test ranks in the subsequent Perth Test.advertisementAll eyes will also be on Zaheer Khan who is back in the team after proving his match-fitness in two Ranji Trophy games against Orissa and Saurashtra. It is particularly to counter Zaheer’s swing that the Australians have ordered a batting camp.India’s pace spearhead is back the ranks after pulling out midway through the first day of the first Test against England at the Lord’s back in July. Since then, he has undergone an ankle surgery Indians the second and a rehabilitation programme.Zaheer’s presence would also offer the Australians an insight into how their young batsmen are ready for the challenge of swing. Test players like Hughes, David Warner, Khawaja and those seeking a recall – like Doug Bollinger and Trent Copeland – would all spice up the contest.Rain, however, is likely to play spoilsport on the opening day with a near definite chance of thunder-showers.Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav.Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI: David Warner (c), Doug Bollinger, Cameron Boyce, Tom Cooper, Trent Copeland, Alex Doolan, Peter George, Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Josh Lalor, Tim Ludeman, Shaun Marsh.Indian batsmen vs Aussie quicks’The forthcoming India-Australia Tests series could be decided by how the visiting batsmen fare against the young and enthusiastic Aussie pacers, feels opener Ed Cowan who is in the shortlist to make the team for the opening Test in Melbourne from December 26.I don’t think the Indians have had a good look at the Aussie quicks. That’s where the series would probably be decided on – Indian batsmen vs Aussie quicks,” said Tasmanian opener Ed Cowan, who is in the short mix openers Australian selectors could be asking to open the innings with David Warner. As regular opener Phil Hughes has regularly failed in Tests this summer, Australian selectors are looking for his replacement.However, Cowan feels that the Zaheer Khan-led Indian attack would be a far sterner test for the Australian batsmen than New Zealand.
Mohammed Ali once said champions aren’t made in the gym but from the dream they have deep within. This is when India dug deep inside its gut to bring the country to its feet. Thirty sporting moments that had India’s collective heart in its mouth. Top of the world with,Mohammed Ali once said champions aren’t made in the gym but from the dream they have deep within. This is when India dug deep inside its gut to bring the country to its feet. Thirty sporting moments that had India’s collective heart in its mouth. Top of the world with Kapil and the Cup1983When Kapil Dev’s Indians, underdogs to start with, were skittled for a paltry 183 by Clive Lloyd’s mighty Windies, no one had a sliver of hope they would lift the 1983 Prudential Cricket World Cup. Until Kapil Dev pulled off a stunner of a catch in the deep to dismiss the belligerent Viv Richards and Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath nailed the coffin shut as they took between them six wickets for just 43 runs.Viswanathan Anand, all of 18, India’s first chess Grandmaster1987Barely of driving age, Viswanathan Anand was nonetheless zipping to the top of the chess world. Nicknamed the ‘Lightning Kid’, he became India’s first-and the world’s youngest-Grandmaster as he stood joint first with Lanka Ravi at the Sakthi Finance International Grandmasters Chess Tournament in Coimbatore.Bhajji, Laxman make Aussies go down under2001At the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, India followed on, faltering as they chased Australia’s 445, and Harbhajan Singh’s first innings hat-trick seemed in vain. A four-day finish loomed, until V.V.S. Laxman’s 281 and Rahul Dravid’s 180 took India to 657, the second-highest second innings Test total. Then Bhajji took six wickets as Australia folded on 212, chasing 384.Too Kool Kumble, Howzzat!!!1999At Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, engineer-turned-medium pacer-turned-leg spinner Anil Kumble became only the second player in Test history, after Englishman Jim Laker, to take 10 wickets in an innings. After the fall of the ninth wicket, the bowlers made an effort to keep the ball away from the unpredictable tail-enders-no one dared deny ‘Jumbo’ his perfect 10.advertisementKhashaba Jadhav wrestles a bronze1952India’s first non-hockey Olympics medal came, fittingly, in freestyle wrestling. Not quite a latter-day Gama, bantam weight Khashaba Jadhav nevertheless brought home a bronze from Helsinki.Sunny ‘Tonny’ scores 10,0001987Pakistani off-spinner Ijaz Faqih was late-cut for a not-so-ordinary single. It was the first innings of the fourth India-Pakistan Test match, and it was Sunil Gavaskar’s 10,000th Test run. Later, on the third day, Imran Khan led his team out on field wearing helmets to protest against crowd violence. Things resumed only when Gavaskar requested the audience in Gujarati to “be calm and treat our guests well”.”I’ve done it,” cries Padukone1980Being denied a shot at the holy grail of badminton- the All-England Championships-in 1979 by a heel injury even while being the top seeded player must have been hard for Prakash Padukone. But returning in 1980, Padukone showed what he could have done, when he beat Indonesian Liem Swie King in straight games, pumping the air with a cry of “I’ve done it!” on his lips. Quite. Especially as this was the only All-England title between 1978 and 1981 that King could not win.Ramanathan Krishnan makes it, almost1960After watching Ramanathan Krishnan beat Mexican Luis Ayala 7-5, 10-8, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon Championships that year, tennis fans at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club were expecting much of the stylish and elegant Indian. Seeded seventh for the year’s championships, Krishnan, however, disappointed as he stumbled at the penultimate hurdle, going down tamely in straight sets to Australian Neale Frasier, who went on to become the eventual champion that year.Gopichand follows his teacher2001Trailing 7-11 in the first game of the All-England Badminton Championships finals against Chinese Chen Hong, Pullela Gopichand was perhaps feeling the weight of the moment. But soon, he settled in and breezed through to a 15-12, 15-6 title victory, becoming only the second Indian after his coach Prakash Padukone to win the title. Age no bar for eveready Amritraj1987A 33-year-old Vijay Amritraj took the court against a much younger Argentinian Martin Jaite, ranked 14, in the Davis Cup first round in Delhi. Defying age and the odds, he took down Jaite in an epic five-setter after being just one point away from defeat, paving the way for a dream run to the finals. India lost the finals to Sweden, but Amritraj’s Davis Cup brimmed over.Taking the Windies by storm1971India beat West Indies in a series played in the West Indies for the first time in 1971. Sunil Gavaskar made a smashing debut, scoring three centuries, three 50s and a double-hundred-an aggregate of 774 runs. This surpassed Dilip Sardesai’s 642 runs, an impressive aggregate also set on the same tour.Like father, like son1996It was an emotional moment for Leander Paes as he climbed the podium to claim his Olympic bronze, just as his father Dr Vece Paes had done as a member of the 1972 hockey team. Falling to Andre Agassi 7-6, 6-3 in the semi-finals before beating Fernando Meligeni 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 for third, he saved India the shame of returning from Atlanta empty-handed.advertisementIndia’s first Test triple centurion2004In typical disdain for both the bowler and the approaching milestone, Virender Sehwag carted off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq over midwicket for a six, becoming India’s first Test triple centurion. And, as if the 309 he hit wasn’t enough, he had it inscribed on his bat, as a silent reminder to any bowler who may happen to forget his name.Paes-Bhupati win the first Grand Slam for India1999Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati overcame the pair of big-serving Goran Ivanisevic and Jeff Torango and tyrant rain-gods to bring India its first Grand Slam. Fighting back from 3-0 in the second set they sealed the French Open doubles title 6-2, 7-5.India’s dream girl, Sania Shining2005Beaten 6-2, 6-1 in her fourth round US Open match with designer diva Maria Sharapova, Sania Mirza was no pushover, winning a billion hearts with a spirited fight. India’s youth found a new icon and she found herself the first Indian in the WTA top-50.Asian women’s champion in table tennis1952Taking up a bat of another kind for India, table-tennis player Gool Nasikwala won in both singles and doubles at the inaugural Asian Table Tennis Championships.Malleswari lifts India high2000A huff and a puff. And it was done. Karnam Malleswari won a bronze in weightlifting in the 69 kg category at the Sydney Olympics. Becoming the first Indian woman Olympic medallist was perhaps more fulfilling than the record-breaking triple-gold she won at the 1995 World Weightlifting Championships.Maninder, out for duck, ties India in knots1986It was the India vs Australia Test match in Chennai. Chasing 348, Maninder Singh, India’s last man, came on strike with one run required off three balls. He played one dot ball. Off-spinner Greg Matthews, who had already taken five wickets for 103 runs in the first innings, got him out LBW the next ball. The scores were even at 347, and despite Singh’s loud protests, it went down as only the second tie in Test history.Home-grown Mohammed Ali2002It was a closely fought match and it went the distance. In the 48 kg light flyweight category boxing finals at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, Mohammed Ali Qamar went into the last round of his bout against Englishman Darren Langley with a 5-point deficit. Letting fly, Qamar forced Langley to take a standing count and eventually triumphed 27-25 to take gold.Narain Karthikeyan becomes India’s First Formula One driver2005After his searing runs in the Formula Three and Formula Nippon racing circuit, Narain Karthikeyan became India’s first Formula One driver when he joined the Jordan racing team. The year, however, ended on a sour note, with him having to retire in five out of 19 races, and being relegated to testdriving for Williams F1.advertisementMilkha Singh flew fast, but not fast enough1960″Flying Sikh” Milkha Singh returned his career best time of 45.6 seconds in the 400-metre event at the Rome Olympics. But it just wasn’t good enough. Merely 0.1 seconds off the bronze medalist, it was the proverbial whisker. In four races, including the semifinals and the finals, he went faster every time-47.6, 46.5, 45.9 and 45.6 seconds.Sach is life. Tendulkar breaks Gavaskar’s record of 34 Test centuries2005At exactly 16:44:19, in fading light on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka, at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi, Sachin Tendulkar became Test cricket’s most prolific centurion. With a flick through square-leg off Chaminda Vaas, he reached his 35th Test century, surpassing Sunil Gavaskar’s record of 34 centuries that had stood for a good 22 years. Ironically, the legendary Gavaskar too had scored his last century against Sri Lanka.Anju Bobby George makes India jump with joy2003Anju Bobby George, with a jump of 6.70 m, became the first Indian medalist at the World Athletics Championships, when she took the long jump bronze in Paris in 2003. Who would believe she is allergic to sand?Mihir Sen crosses the English Channel…swimming1966Kolkata lawyer Mihir Sen became the first Indian to swim the English Channel in September 1958. In 1966, he swam across the Palk Strait, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus, and the Panama Canal, setting the record for the longest distance swum-more than 600 km in sea/ocean water.A year after shaking England off its back, India trounces them in hockey1948In a match played on a rain-soaked pitch that saw some Indians choosing to play barefoot, India blanked out England 4-0. The country’s fabled hockey team thus won its first post-Independence Olympic gold in hockey in the London Olympics, beating, ironically, their colonisers until not so long ago.Hat-trick by De Souza makes Aussies play spoilsport1956Neville De Souza scored a hat-trick in football for India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics against the home team as India sailed through to the semi-finals on a 4-2 score line. The Australians, playing spoilsport, called the Indian win a “fluke” and demanded a rematch, which also went India’s way.Shooting star Rajyavardhan Rathore hits a bull’s eye for an Olympic silver2004For Lt-Col Rajyavardhan Rathore, the shooting range of the doubletrap event at the Athens Olympics must have been quite a change after the death-valleys of Kashmir. But his response after becoming India’s first individual Olympic silver medalist was perhaps the same: “If you ask me how it felt, I would say I wouldn’t like to go through that again.”A lanky Azharuddin went out to bat. For himself. And history. Pity about the rest1984When Mohammed Azharuddin, a dashing 22-year-old, took guard for the first time against England in Kolkata in 1984, little would the opposition have known what they were in for. Following a 110 on debut, he went on to get another 329 runs in the next two Tests. The next great exponent of leg-side batting, after Zaheer Abbas and Greg Chappell, was born.Two for win. That’s what happened when India’s past and present captains joined bats to score 3181999When Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly came together in the India-Sri Lanka 1999 World Cup match in Taunton, England, an Indian top-order collapse seemed imminent. But the duo had other plans, as they dug into a 318-run feast. Setting a one-day partnership record for the time, it was fitting riposte to India’s semi-finals defeat at Kolkata in the 1996 World Cup.Taking the cue, Pankaj Advani, just 19, wins the world2005And what better way to do it than by beating the legendary Geet Sethi. In a six-hour final that ended with a 2242-1717 score-line, Pankaj Advani, announced his arrival by winning the World Billiards Championships in Malta. He then went on to complete his billiards double, winning in the points format too.
Former Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid’s retirement from international cricket means that the country’s fabulous four has now been reduced to the terrible three, comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag and V.V.S. Laxman, who have been in miserable touch with the bat in Test cricket.”I thought I had a great run. I have given this a serious thought. I knew I had to go… I did not feel the need to drag it on any longer,” Dravid said on Friday while announcing his retirement, probably also showing the other three veterans the way. It would be beneficial to Indian cricket if they retire when the time is right so that the young generation finally gets a go for India in Test cricket. Tendulkar, Laxman and Sehwag had a miserable 2011. “…the time was right to move on and I was happy with what I had achieved,” Dravid said replying to a question. Now that ‘the Wall’ has shown the way, probably the time has come for the other gentlemen to follow his example. Age seems to have caught up with Tendulkar and Laxman, while Sehwag seems to have no application or intent to put a value to his wicket in Test cricket. Rookie fast bowlers in England and then in Australia made the big three of Indian cricket hop, skip and jump. No wonder, the calls for their retirement are gathering force. Recently, former Indian skipper Kapil Dev said in an interview to Headlines Today that Tendulkar should have retired at least from the ODI soon after he achieved the biggest feat in a cricketer’s life by winning the World Cup last year. Even Sourav Ganguly too advocated for the Master Blaster’s retirement. With Virat Kohli finally showing his potential and the likes of Manoj Tiwary making the most of his limited opportunities, it seems time for the old generation to make way for the young guns. Probably it is time for Tendulkar, Laxman and Sehwag to follow Dravid and retire gracefully to usher in the future of Indian cricket.advertisement
THE EAGLES HAVE LANDED: The Pakistani team at DharamsalaSo it doesn’t get any bigger than this then, does it? You could have fooled Pakistan. Its cricket team travels to India for their first series there for six years amidst, well, a curious apathy. The build-up to this series has been,THE EAGLES HAVE LANDED: The Pakistani team at DharamsalaSo it doesn’t get any bigger than this then, does it? You could have fooled Pakistan. Its cricket team travels to India for their first series there for six years amidst, well, a curious apathy. The build-up to this series has been a slow-burner-little hype on TV, no talking endlessly about the Karachi run-chase of 1978-79, or the last-ball six at Sharjah. Even newspaper reportage is, shockingly, interested only in staid matters such as the squad’s composition and venues, devoid of any masala, barring the occasional Shoaib Akhtar or Sarfraz Nawaz outburst. It isn’t that people are not interested or excited, it’s just that compared to last year’s epic series, they seem blase. Why?Last year’s tour was never just about the cricket. Timed as it was around a newly emerging political detente between the two countries, the tour became the fulcrum form ass socio-cultural exchange. Pakistan and India played cricket together yes, but during it, around it and subsequent to it they made films together, organised fashion shows, sang songs and made music videos together.Figuring Out The FreshersKamran AkmalKamran Akmal: A natural behind the stumps, Akmal is spectacular to spin and efficient to the faster men. He has been so good that calls for Rashid Latif and Moin Khan’s recall have been ignored.Danish KaneriaDanish Kaneria: The most promising leg-spinner in the game and with a successful tour of Australia behind him, he is the most confident as well. Kaneria’s action is not pretty but his perseverance, variety and above all accuracy means that the India tour could be his making.Salman ButtSalman Butt: His off-side game is sparkling, studded with extravagant cover drives and a unique flick behind point. Butt’s leg-side game is less impressive and he might struggle against spin.If Pooja and Mahesh Bhatt discovered the delightfully art-house sensibilities of the Kara film Festival (as well as Lollywood starlet Meera, who bagged a role across the border), then the conformist pop of Strings and the mainstream musical fusion of Fuzon discovered India.advertisementIn Pakistan, even paan wallahs were dreaming up cross-border collaborations; if a project did not have Indian input, “Uff well, that was just so last year”. On the pitch too, India and Pakistan met in no less than nine ODI matches, in five different venues, making up for lost time and simultaneously guarding against a future embargo.India-Pakistan, dosti-dosti; it was regurgitated, almost vomited throughout most of 2004. This year then, is it any wonder that perhaps, inevitably, like the incessant and excessive hummability of a teeny-bopper chart-topper, there is a little fatigue at an India-Pakistan series? Has familiarity bred ennui? And are we all a little good-willed out perhaps?It has not helped matters either that like last year the tour, although never in serious doubt, has been intangible, a little ethereal until now. The tiff over Ahmedabad, the brief but perennial TV rights blip and the equally embedded subcontinental trait of leaving everything till the very last moment has meant that the tour for many was not a very real concept.There were though, finally and belatedly, some signs of excitement and anticipation when visa forms were handed out on purchase of tickets (for the Mohali Test) at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Fans, reportedly 40 of them, slept on pavements outside the stadium to pick up forms first thing in the morning and for once, the sight of long queues was a pleasing one. Consider this as a counterpoint to the overkill of dosti-dosti: there were 7,500 tickets reserved for Pakistani fans, 5,500 of which (much to the chagrin of Karachiites) were for Lahore only. If, as reports suggested, most of the tickets have been sold, it throws up the remarkable situation of more Pakistanis having gone to India to witness a Test match than the number which turned up in Pakistan to watch one last year.It should not really be a surprise given that Pakistan, who would be underdogs if such things were applicable to these contests, has enough about it to illuminate what should be a special series, one that is loaded with several intriguing sub-plots.Yes, he of the rickety hamstrings and the faked photographs-surely the ultimate sign of the celebrity hood that Akhtar so craves-is not here. In his absence is a team not as bad as a drubbing by Australia suggests, for no team is ever that poor. In fact, their performances in the VB Series after Akhtar’s injury, as in Karachi against Sri Lanka in November 2004 (a Test they won without Akhtar and Mohammad Sami), suggests that they gel better as a team without him.Let’s not get delusional about this though. No matter how much we love to hate Akhtar the reality, tragic as it may be, is that his absence leaves, for the Test matche sat least, a thread bare feel about the attack. He is not just the fastest, or the most experienced.advertisementQuite simply, he is Pakistan’s most successful bowler in recent times, as 75 wickets in his past 15 Tests-against all manner of opposition in all countries- testifies.And with Shabbir Ahmed and Umar Gul still out, much of the responsibility of the pace attack falls on the slim shoulders of Sami and the big heart of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.The portents though reveal slivers of promise. Even though Sami remains a man for whom the words “flatters to deceive” were surely first muttered with disdain, he often puts in his best work sans Akhtar. Rana reaffirmed his strong character on the Australia tour (in the aftermath of his father’s death) but it also revealed a hitherto underrated ability with the ball, albeit in ODIs. Ticket Sale for India-Pakistan seriesTicket sales indicate a remarkable situation of morePakistanis having gone to India to see a Test match than the numberwhich turned up in Pakistan to watch one last year.The jury is still out on whether he can cut it at the Test level, but consider this: he has pace, variety and above all intelligence and he reverse swings a meaner yorker than either Akhtar or Sami. But the man on whom most eyes-and many hopes-will rest is Danish Parabha Shankar Kaneria. Australia marked his official coming of age, his pass to play in the league of big boys and as far as swatting leg-spin goes, the boys don’t get much bigger than the Indians. What does he bring? Ostensibly an ungainly, hunched yet high arm action (the result of a short and chubby childhood spent trying to give the ball as much flight to get to the other end), enviable bounce and turn and relentless accuracy. He brings with him, too, the usual leggie’s bag of temptations, the most delightful of which is a wonderfully disguised googly bearing the Richie Benaud stamp of approval.Above all, he brings a ravenous hunger for success. Indians will remember him for his diligence and untiring enthusiasm in the Rawalpindi Test last year. He has since embellished it with the attitude of a fast bowler, one that has reaped rich rewards-he has taken 30 wickets in five Tests since that series. If Australia washis making, then India couldbehis making for life.Indo-Pak Series ScheduleClick here to EnlargeMuch less is intriguing about the batting. It remains, as was evident in Australia, both a weakness and a strength. The reliance on the rock of Inzamam-ul-Haq seems to have lessened. At Melbourne and Sydney,when his back injury flared up, Pakistan were weaned off him forcibly and performed, for the most part, credibly. His stunning return to form in the VB Series reinforced how crucial he remains to Pakistan, and how his batting has improved with leadership. He is as near to peak form as is possible, at a stage where batting seems an after thought. He scored five 50s during the VB series and each time he had scored them before you even knew he had.There is hope too-fresh in Salman Butt and renewed in the likes ofYounis Khan. Like Saeed Anwar, Butt’s wrists and an enchanting off-side game make up for some plodding feet but he may face problems in prolonged spells of quality spin. Most impressive, perhaps, is his cool, unruffled temperament and a willingness, say the team management, to bat to a plan.FAN FARE: People line up to apply for visas in LahoreKhan arrives with more baggage than most. He was solid and reliable without exploding in Australia, a trait that hasmarkedmost of his career. For the past two years, he has also been talked of as a future captain and his elevation to the vicecaptaincy is both a reward for his recent consistency and part of a broader leadership plan. In and around these is a sea of if-onlys-if only Youhana always played as he did in Melbourne on Boxing Day, if only a place can be found for the doughty Asim Kamal in the middle order, if only Kamran Akmal could bat as well as he keeps, if only Shoaib Malik could bowl again thus replacing the regressing Abdul Razzaq in the Test side. If only. Then what a series we could be in for.Does it get bigger than this? Probably, and especially so, given the unremarkable and often insipid history of matches between the two nations. Glaswegians will tell you it does, as will Milanese and Mancunians.Maybe this history has caught up and subdued the hype. Maybe we are a little tired of playing against each other so often in such a short period of time, hoping that it does not take away from the uniqueness of the occasion. Maybe but only until March 8.advertisement
India has enough colours, fabrics, culture and history that will inspire any artist or designer, and Angela Missoni is no exception.The creative head of the fashion label that carries her family name has been inspired by the sari and her ambition is “to work on it to make it mainstream in the international market”. “Who would not want to work on it? It is such a gorgeous costume,” Missoni said in Jaipur, where she was one of the key speakers at the 14th annual conference of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI). Of course, Missoni, who also co-owns the label famous for its colourful knitwear, said she had no plans to establish her familyowned label’s presence in India’s mushrooming high street retail market.Missoni isn’t the first international celebrity to be inspired by the sari. Most recently, Oprah Winfrey sported it in Mumbai en route to the Jaipur Literature Festival and Paris Hilton splashed it on the international fashion pages when she appeared in a pinkish Greciandrape dress, styled like a sari, at the 2011 launch of her Indian collection. It was Jacqueline Kennedy, in fact, who set the ball rolling when she visited India in 1962 and wore a sari.”The reason Missoni is successful is because of our family’s commitment to freedom to work,” Angela said, to explain her plans for the sari. “We encourage new ideas that go beyond borders and break conventional design rules.” Angela began assisting her mother in the conception and creation of the brand’s women’s collections by the time she was 18.When Angela took charge of her family business in the 1990s, most other fashion houses were scouting around for financial partners or offering themselves for corporate takeovers. The Missonis, though, looked at their own resources to keep themselves afloat.Angela’s parents first encouraged her to launch her own label and then to take over as the creative director of the company in 1998.Angela believes India has all it needs to have a successful, global fashion industry, but she wonders why the country has not woken up yet to its potential. “India has the same potential as Italy; it has the best textiles and fabrics, craftsmanship, culture and history to inspire its designers, and therefore, India has great opportunities in the fashion industry,” she said.The Indian market, according to her, is good for selling branded accessories and men’s wear, and she expressed the hope that it would become bigger for international fashion labels. “I believe the Indian market sees a lot of branded accessories being sold, but it is yet to open up to clothes in a big way,” the designer said.Missoni is excited about working with young designers. “I hope to inspire them to create their own niche, but I advise them not to follow anyone and pursue their own ideas,” she said.Sari allureAngela Missoni is not the first international fashion celebrity to be drawn by India’s national garment. Other top designers and the entertainment A- list have also succumbed to its charms. Some examples: Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Hurley, Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton, Cameron Diaz, Katy Perry, Angelina Jolie, Naomi Campbell and Victoria Beckham have all worn saris in the recent pastFrench luxury brand Hermes launched a limited- edition sari range in India in 2011 to tap the market here. Inspired by their signature printed silk scarves, Hermes produced 28 saris priced approximately at Rs. 400,000 eachChanel’s 2011 couture show included a line of sari gownsValentino designed a sari dress for Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1950s. Kennedy, who was India in 1962, is reported to have bought two saris during her visitadvertisement
Discus thrower Krishna Poonia became a national celebrity when she won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi in 2010.But that didn’t stop a Bhilwara based multi-level marketing company from duping her of Rs 6 lakh.Soon after her Commonwealth glory, Prem Prakash of Saajan Jewellers Trade Link Private Limited, who knew Krishna and her husband Virendra, approached the couple saying investments in the firm would grow by 20 times in three years. Subsequently on December 1, 2010, the champion athlete gave a cheque of Rs 6 lakh as investment in the company.Later when the Poonias inquired from the company’s director, Rameshwar Heda, about returns on the investment, they were made to wait and even ignored.It soon became evident that the company was involved in a fraud as the Bhilwara police started getting a large number of complaints against it.After Krishna pressured the company, it gave her a cheque for Rs 1 lakh on December 26, 2011. It again gave two cheques for Rs 2.5 lakh each on January 10 and 25 this year. But the two cheques bounced.This prompted the Poonia couple to approach the Jaipur police but the SHO expressed his inability to register an FIR for want of sufficient evidence. Only a complaint was registered.Even a meeting with top police officers of the city failed to yield any result until Tuesday evening, when the complaint was finally converted into an FIR. Sadar police station circle inspector Manoj Gupta said the delay in registering the FIR was because they didn’t have enough evidence. Once the complaint was found genuine, an FIR was registered, he added.advertisementProbes have revealed that the company had promised a fourfold annual return while the principal amount was to increase 20 times in three years.The Bhilwara police have arrested 10 persons of the firm, nine were released on bail but Heda is still in judicial custody. Prem Prakash, who had approached the Poonia couple on behalf of the firm, too, has lodged an FIR against Heda for a fraud of Rs 12.23 lakh.
Latika KhanejaLatika KhanejaCollege Sports ManagementPlayers/Brand positioning: Virender Sehwag/”Desi Cool”, Ashish Nehra/”The Boy’s Boy”, S. Bangar, D. Mongia. While Irfan Pathan was busy foxing Australia’s top batsmen with crafty out swingers in his first international series, Sanjay Lal was keeping a close watch.Not because he is a cricket fanatic but as,Latika KhanejaLatika KhanejaCollege Sports ManagementPlayers/Brand positioning: Virender Sehwag/”Desi Cool”, Ashish Nehra/”The Boy’s Boy”, S. Bangar, D. Mongia. While Irfan Pathan was busy foxing Australia’s top batsmen with crafty out swingers in his first international series, Sanjay Lal was keeping a close watch.Not because he is a cricket fanatic but as the CEO of celebrity management company Percept D’Mark, he knew the 19-year-old would be a prize catch. “We must get him,” thought Lal.But in the cutthroat business of marketing cricketers, one series can be a lifetime. Before Lal could even call up Pathan, rival sports agent Lokesh Sharma had snapped up the bowler on a five-year contract. Lal then turned his attention to Lakshmipathy Balaji. In Balaji, favourite of the crowd, dogged with the ball and comically effective with the bat, he saw an opportunity to “build a quality brand”.When the Indian team returned from Pakistan, Percept D’Mark signed a three-year contract with Balaji, promising him Rs 1 crore a year. “For four to six months we will develop a strategy for him,” says Lal, who also manages Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh. As for Sharma, he wasted no time.Touting Pathan as the next big thing, the managing director of 21st Century Media has created a portfolio of prestigious brands for the bowler-Reebok, Samsung, Pepsi and Hero Cycles. All this in just three months.The past year has featured trademark scenes from the player management trade: the hustle to grab young players, swelling endorsement packages, hefty commissions, souring relationships between cricketers and their agents and court battles.advertisementSanjay LalSanjay LalPercept D’MarkPlayers/Brand positioning: Indian captain Sourav Ganguly/”Leader”, Yuvraj Singh/”Cool Dude”, Lakshmipathy Balaji. Welcome to the world of the cricket agents. They dash from one corporate meeting to the other, defining their brands as “Cool”, “Stylish, “Boy-Next-Door”, “Dependable” and try to persuade their audience how Brand Sehwag fits in with Brand Reliance or Brand Yuvraj with Brand Westside.Contrary to popular perception, companies don’t chase star cricketers. It is the work of the aggressive agent. “You have to convince companies to spend their money on your resource,” says Latika Khaneja, Virender Sehwag’s IIM graduate manager.That’s not all that agents do. They are also constantly on the prowl for new talent. “Catch ’em young” is their mantra because a couple of years down the line a player’s price could be double. But Sharma does not look at it as grabbing players cheap. “This is when they really need someone to guide them,” he says. A former sports journalist, Sharma forayed into sports marketing in 1996 and is known as a smooth operator with enviable contacts. Rahul Dravid was the first major cricketer he signed in 1996 and since then Mohammed Kaif, Parthiv Patel, Hemang Badani, Anil Kumble and Pathan have signed up with 21st Century Media. “My job is to look after their commercial affairs and allow them to focus on cricket,” he says.Agents are the backroom boys who broker big deals and rake in the moolah for Team India. For a 10-20per cent commission, the agent markets the player, expertly divides his time off the field between endorsement shootings, sponsors’ events and family.In some cases, legal and investment advice are also part of the deal. Agents may be shy of discussing their earnings from marketing cricketers, but it is safe to say that a smart agent tied in with a couple of top cricketers can earn between Rs 60 lakh and Rs 1.5 crore per year from player management alone.Jeanne VergheseJeanne VergheseWorldtelPlayers/Brand positioning: Sachin Tendulkar/ “Legend”, Ajit Agarkar. Less than a decade ago, the “sharks in suits” shouting into their cell phones at the sidelines was an American thing. In India, a family member or a friend usually acted as a player’s manager. But Mark Mascarenhas’ entry in 1996 revolutionised Indian celebrity endorsement.Prior to Mascarenhas, Sachin Tendulkar’s financial affairs were managed by brother Ajit. It took Tendulkar seven years in international cricket before he was signed on by Mascarenhas in 1996. It has taken Pathan just one series.Stiff competition means that player management is turning sophisticated with agents roping in fashion designers, stylists and haircare experts. Celebrity designer Wendell Rodricks will give Ganguly a makeover (to be unveiled in mid-July) and a stylist will soon get to work on V.V.S. Laxman.All agents insist that their relationship with the player they sign on is more than business. “We do everything we can to sell them but ultimately it depends on how they perform,” says Khaneja, adding, “When things are not going right they need someone to hold their hand through a rough patch.” Most managers claim they share a great camaraderie with their clients.But enough has happened to suggest this is a ruthless bond. Last September, Percept dragged Ganguly to court for negotiating with World Sport Nimbus (WSN) six weeks before his contract with Percept ended. Four months later, Zaheer Khan had to visit court when he walked out on Percept and signed with Mahesh Bhupathi’s Globo Sport. Laxman too parted ways with Sporting Frontiers to sign up with WSN. Laxman is said to have served the Australia-based company a notice for not marketing him well.advertisementLokesh SharmaLokesh Sharma21st Century MediaPlayers/Brand positioning: Rahul Dravid/”Rock Solid”, Anil Kumble/”Milestone Man”, Mohammed Kaif/”Big Match Player”, Irfan Pathan/”Match Winner”, P. Patel/ “Boy Next Door”. Some agents believe players often harbour unrealistic expectations and over-estimate their worth. While players can be faulted for being naive or greedy, industry insiders admit that lack of professionalism and transparency are responsible for souring relations between players and agents.Harish Thawani, WSN co-chairman, goes a step further: “The business is littered with agents out to make their commission. Grabbing players young is doing them a disservice as it is too early to develop a brand out of them.” With Laxman, WSN-television software producer and distributor of television rights-entered the player management fray.Thawani promises the works: brand-mapping exercises, grooming agents, sports law specialists, financial investment advisers and even a retirement plan. Already two book deals have been worked out with Laxman-one to be released soon and the other, after the batsman retires.While player management is the most glamorous aspect of the cricket business, it is only a trifling Rs 55-70 crore of the Rs 2,500 crore pie and restricted to the top 16 players. Television software production, distribution of TV rights, sponsorship sales, in-stadia advertising and event management are far more lucrative.This may explain why leaders in the sports business, like IMG and WSN, have not made aggressive efforts to acquire players. “Globally we are known for representing athletes but in India we have adopted a different approach,” says Ravi Krishnan, managing-director, South Asia, IMG.But that is about to change. Krishnan believes his firm will step in around the next World Cup when many contracts will expire and some key players will retire. Thawani says, at least, two established cricketers will join WSN very soon.After the family member and the freelance agent, the advent of the international giant could well be the third phase of player management in India.
The Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) has declared the short-list of candidates for interview to M.A. and M.Phil English courses for the 2012-13 academic session, the varsity said on Wednesday.”The results were scheduled to be declared on June 21 and 22, but the English department has announced the lists on June 19,” a statement said.The interviews for the M.Phil. course will be held June 25 and MA course June 27 and 28.The students may access their results at http://jmi.ac.in. or check on the department’s notice board at the university.The JMI has recently declared results of the entrance examinations which were held for admission into various courses for the academic year 2012-13.