Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The younger brother, history relates, is often the faster racer. It had been thus with the Rodriguez brothers, Pedro and Ricardo, and with Emerson and Wilson Fittipaldi. It may yet prove the same with the Schumachers.

It's interesting to note that when Ralf Schumacher tested for McLaren late in 1996, however, that people within the team remained lukewarm about the reigning champion's sibling. Ralf, they said, had done nothing special.

Perhaps it was nerves, perhaps he was just being cautious. But when Ralf Schumacher unintentionally turfed Jordan teammate Giancarlo Fisichella off the road in Argentina the following year, he went on to finish third, on the podium, in only his third F1 outing. Without the delay, he might even have challenged for victory.

Schuey Junior had followed his big brother through karting and Formula Ford, and rumor has it that he was already in the big earning category by the time he joined Michael's manager Willi Weber in German F3 in 1994. One win and a string of high placings left him third in the title chase, but despite winning four races in 1995 he was still bested by Argentinean Norberto Fontana. It didn't seem to matter. The Schumacher name, and Weber's guidance, looked set to push Ralf onwards and upwards. They headed for Formula Nippon in 1996, where Ralf added another three wins before going on to that test for McLaren.

At Jordan his teammate was the highly regarded Giancarlo Fisichella, and the pair kept one another on their toes all season. Generally Fisichella had the upper hand after a difficult start, but in 1998 Ralf kept Damon Hill honest, but spoiled an impressive year by complaining bitterly after Eddie Jordan had instructed him not to challenge Hill for the team's first victory, at Spa-Francorchamps. In truth, Ralf's chance there had only arisen because the deployment of the safety car had allowed him to close on his team leader.

Such behavior was seen as brattish by the F1 fraternity, though it was understandable in any racer. But when Ralf transferred to Williams for 1999, and did so much to extract solid performances from a bad car, his stock rose dramatically. He won his first race at Imola in 2001 and followed up with two further wins to end the year fourth in the World Championship. In 2002 things were tougher but he won in Malaysia although he was often outpaced by Juan Pablo Montoya. He remained at Williams in 2003 and 2004 but was never very convincing although he did a good job when he came back from injury after a big crash at Indianapolis. In 2005 he moved to Toyota F1. He had a second big crash at Indianapolis but towards the end of the year looked as though he might finally be in a position to compete with team mate Jarno Trulli.

The two men remained together at Toyota in 2006 but did little to make any impact. They remain team mates in 2007.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Despite being anointed India's national game, hockey lags far behind cricket and other games in the popularity stakes. When Indian sportspersons are rapidly asserting themselves in the world stage, India's hockey fortune is plummeting to an abyss in the international fora.

During the heydays of Indian hockey, the national team called the shots in major sporting events, annihilating opponents with utter disdain. But gradually things took a turn for the worse with the Indian team failing to keep pace with vastly improving European rivals.

With success being far and few between, hockey is losing out to other popular sports that have brought India international success.


The game of Kabaddi is played across the length and breadth of rural India. This popularity can be ascribed to the simplicity of the game and the fact that it requires no sophisticated equipment.

Since Kabaddi is an Indian game, India has been at the forefront of promoting the game at the international stage. India played a pivotal role in laying down standard rules and procedures for Kabaddi in the 1950s.

The Indian Amateur Kabaddi Federation president Janardhan Singh Gehlot was instrumental in establishing the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) in 2004 and he was elected the first president of IKF.

India's efforts to popularize Kabaddi has paid rich dividends as the country has won all the Asian Games gold medals since the game was introduced in the 1990 Beijing Games.


The game of cricket has acquired the status of a religion in India with the cricketers enjoying a demi-god status. The massive fan-following that the game commands across the length and breadth of this country is a testimony of its unsurpassed popularity.

The popularity of cricket in India can be ascribed to the fact that the country has been a force to reckon with in the world stage. The game witnessed exponential growth in India when Kapil's Devils humbled the mighty West Indians in the hallowed turf of Lord's to emerge as the World Champions in 1983.

The long line of world-beaters the country has produced exemplifies the rich heritage of cricket in India. From Ranjitsinghji, Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar, India has been churning out exceptional cricketing talents who have left their marks in the annals of the game.

In addition to the abundant talent pool, cricket in India has benefited by the innovative marketing strategies adopted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. With top-notch corporate houses making a beeline to be associated with the Indian cricket team, the Board laughing all the way to the bank.

The cricketers too have made a fortune out of their celebrity status by endorsing a host of consumer products. Given the popularity of the game and the players' celebrity status, it's no wonder that the majority of the young kids of this country aspire to be successful cricketers.


Full Name: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Born: July 7, 1981, Ranchi, Bihar
Major teams: India, Jharkhand
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Fielding Position: Wicketkeeper

Achievements:Highest score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs (183 not out); highest number of sixes (10) in an ODI innings by a wicketkeeper (most by an Indian); highest batting average for a wicketkeeper

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the new poster boy of Indian cricket. With his long mane and swashbuckling batting style, Dhoni has the whole country drooling over him at this moment.

Dhoni got his big break in the Indian team courtesy his exploits against Pakistan A, in the triangular tournament in Kenya, where he destroyed bowling attacks with disdain. After making his one-day international debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong in December 2004 Dhoni remained subdued in the first four matches he played.

It was his fifth one-dayer, against Pakistan at Vishakapatnam, which heralded MS Dhoni's arrival at the big stage when the dashing wicket keeper cracked a dazzling 148 from just 123 balls. Dhoni followed it with another cracker of an innings against Sri Lanka on 31 October 2005, when he clobbered his way to a mammoth 183 off just 145 balls, thus breaking Adam Gilchrist's record for the highest score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs

During this blitzkrieg, Dhoni also broke Saeed Anwar's record of most runs scored off boundaries by scoring a total of 120 runs off 4s and 6s eclipsing the previous record of 118.

Riding on the good showing in the One-Dayers, Dhoni made his Test debut against Sri Lanka and in only his fifth Test, scored his maiden century to help India avoid follow-on against Pakistan. Ever since, Dhoni has been a crucial member of the Indian side.


Full Name: Rahul Sharad Dravid
Born: January 11, 1973, Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Major teams: India, Scotland, ICC World XI, Karnataka, Kent
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Bowling style: Right-arm off break

Achievements:Longest streak of consecutive Tests since debut (94); greatest number of innings since debut before being dismissed for a duck; the best career test average among the contemporary test batsmen (58.55); Involved in the highest partnership (331 runs) in the history of ODI cricket along with Sachin Tendulkar vs New Zealand; ICC Player of the Year 2004

Throughout his illustrious career, Rahul "the Wall" Dravid has lived up to his moniker on umpteen occasions, stonewalling against the best of attacks to serve the Indian cause. Dravid-who averages around 60 in both forms of the game-can undoubtedly be called the most valuable player for India.

An epitome supreme technical prowess, Dravid made an impressive debut against England scoring a fighting 95. He made his mark quickly and went on to play in 94 consecutive Tests since his debut, the run being ended only by illness before the second Test against Sri Lanka in 2005. This sure is an evidence of the phenomenal consistency the man has showed over the years.

Notwithstanding his technical superiority, Dravid was stereotyped as the archetypal Test match player who is not fit for the shorter version of the game. Undeterred by such criticism, Dravid persisted and evolved his game to such an extent that he has been India's most prolific run-getter in the last two years.

The year 2001 heralded the start of a glorious phase in Dravid's career. After defying his critics with a monumental 376-run partnership with VVS Laxman in the historic Calcutta Test, Dravid's glorious streak continued with double centuries against England, Australia and Pakistan including a brilliant run of centuries in four consecutive innings against England and the West Indies.

Ever the quintessential team man, the unassuming Dravid has also shouldered the responsibility of donning the wicket keeper gloves to allow an extra batsman into the playing eleven for India. Unlike some of predecessors, the onerous task of Indian captaincy has not affected Dravid's sublime batting skills and he has earned accolades for innovative leadership.


With Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger going head-to-head for the 34th time this weekend, Opta break down who has the upper hand to date.

Statistically, Wenger holds sway with 14 wins to his name to Ferguson's 12 victories in all competitions.

The Premier League record between the pair cannot be separated with eight wins apiece,

Also in the FA Cup the duo cannot be separated with two wins apeice and one draw in the five meetings between the two fierce rivals.

In the Carling Cup the experienced pair have one win each to their name, but in the Community Shield they have contrasting records.

The Red Devils boss has just the one success against Wenger from their four encounters in the Community Shield.

OVERALL Ferguson Wenger
Matches 33
Wins 12 14
Draws 7 7
Defeats 14 12
Goals Scored 37 41
Goals Against 41 37

PREMIER LEAGUE Ferguson Wenger
Matches 22
Wins 8 8
Draws 6 6
Defeats 8 8
Goals Scored 30 25
Goals Against 25 30

FA CUP Ferguson Wenger
Matches 5
Wins 2 2
Draws 1 1
Defeats 2 2
Goals Scored 3 3
Goals Against 3 3

CARLING CUP Ferguson Wenger
Matches 2
Wins 1 1
Draws 0 0
Defeats 1 1
Goals Scored 1 4
Goals Against 4 1

Matches 4
Wins 1 3
Draws 0 0
Defeats 3 1
Goals Scored 3 9
Goals Against 9 3

Friday, November 2, 2007


Practice had long since ended Thursday, and Bobcats forward Okafor was still on the court, playing a competitive, rotating one-on-one competition with three teammates.

The first draft pick in franchise history was laughing and joking as sweat soaked through his jersey. There was little evidence that just hours earlier Okafor had turned down a contract offer from the Bobcats, meaning he'll become a restricted free agent on July 1.

"I definitely want to be here long-term, and the Bobcats want me to be here long-term," Okafor said after the workout. "It's just the way things go sometimes. Everyone is in a great mood. Everybody is cool."

Still, the stalemate was unexpected. In a news conference in March, Bobcats part-owner Michael Jordan listed "tying up Okafor" as one of the top offseason priorities. The day before training camp began, Okafor said "there's no doubt in my mind we'll get something done" before the Oct. 31 deadline.

But early Thursday morning, the key cog in the Bobcats' defense was without a deal.

"Our offer was commensurate with our respect for Emeka as a basketball player, his overall character and what he brings to the Charlotte community," Bobcats vice president of basketball operations Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We both had different ideas on economic value, but we both agree that neither were insulting."

The 6-foot-10 Okafor will make just over $5.4 million this season in the final year of his rookie scale contract. The two sides can't negotiate again until July 1.

And while the Bobcats can match any offer from another team next summer, the uncertainty of Okafor being in the last year of his deal weighs upon the Bobcats as they begin the season Friday at home against Milwaukee.

"I don't think it's going to be a distraction for me, the team or for Emeka," insisted Bobcats coach Sam Vincent. "He knows what he has to do."

Bickerstaff and Okafor wouldn't reveal the financial figures of the Bobcats' proposed deal. Okafor's agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not return repeated phone messages during the negotiating period.

"The Bobcats made a fair offer," Okafor said.

But it was less than the maximum amount the Bobcats could give the No. 2 pick in the 2004 draft. In July, Orlando gave Dwight Howard, the No. 1 pick in that draft, the maximum five-year deal worth about $85 million.

Okafor's numbers don't match up to Howard's. The former Connecticut star has averaged 14.5 points and 10.9 rebounds in three seasons. He's not the offensive threat Howard is, and there are questions about his durability after he missed all but 26 games of the 2005-06 season with an ankle injury.

Still, he's the anchor of the Bobcats' defense. The Bobcats lost seven straight games late last season when he was sidelined with a calf injury to end their slim playoff hopes.

Okafor, who has 347 blocks in three seasons, is not alone among the rookie class of 2004 that didn't come to terms. Chicago's Deng and gordon are without new deals, so is Philadelphia's Iguodala.


The sigh from one Chicago player's agent was rich with relief Thursday afternoon to hear Bulls general manager John Paxson declare that it is back to basketball for his club.

The Bulls are out of the running for Kobe Bryant. For now, anyway.

"I've never seen reports for any player like there's been for this thing, and I think it was important for John to do that," the agent said. "You can talk until you're blue in the face and say this isn't a distraction, but it's become one for both teams. The players hear everything, and they read everything. That's just the world we live in."

The Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls have been negotiating for weeks, but have been unable to agree on a package that would work for the teams and Bryant, who has a no-trade clause and thus can veto any deal. Few Bulls have been spared speculation, and an opening-night loss to New Jersey on Wednesday seems to have convinced Paxson that he needed to end negotiations.

"There's not a deal to be done," Paxson said. "It's time to put it to rest. … I think today sends a message to our players that nothing's going to be done."

However, Paxson refused to dismiss the possibility that talks could restart near the February trade deadline.

"Who knows?" he said. "The reality is that, right now, it's done."

Now the Lakers need to make a statement too. These aren't the mature veterans of the Shaq-Kobe sagas who could withstand these soap operas and still play winning basketball. This is a young, fragile team that has no chance of success within these 24-hour cycles of All Kobe, All The Time.

Dr. Jerry Buss would be wise to have his GM, Mitch Kupchak, say the same thing Paxson did: For now, anyway, we're done talking to teams about Kobe Bryant. The Lakers either do that and try to salvage the season or cave to Bryant and make a hasty trade. It isn't much of a choice, but Bryant and the Lakers share the blame for creating this mess.

If the Lakers are determined to spiral into disarray, Paxson isn't willing to let his Bulls go there with them