Sunday, November 23, 2008

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Bernie's wife files for divorce

The duo have been married for 23 years, but on Thursday a statement from Slavica confirmed reports that she is divorcing the Formula One supremo.

A spokeswoman for the 50-year-old said the announcement had been prompted by media speculation about the Ecclestones' personal life.

The former model, who will be represented by Liz Vernon, one of Britain's most highly-rated divorce lawyers, could be in line for a significant portion of her husband's fortune. Bernie is believed to be worth in excess of US$4billion.

Simon Bethel, a family law specialist, told the BBC: "Given Mr and Mrs Ecclestone were reputed to be worth US$4billion in the 2008 Rich List, this case may see the highest award to a wife in legal history."

Jani victorious at Sepang

Team Switzerland's Neel Jani became the fifth different race winner this season. After a red flag, Switzerland controlled the re-start and made a slick pit-stop to take a comfortable win in the hot and humid conditions. Frances Loc Duval finished second ahead of a charging Earl Bamber for A1 Team New Zealand.

As the cars came in formation towards the rolling start, an incident involving USA, Brazil and India brought out the red flag. The pack appeared to pick up pace as it approached the start line, but then backed off causing a concertina effect towards the back of the field.

The USA car of Marco Andretti and the Brazilian car of Felipe Guimares took it in turn to climb over the back of Narain Karhtikeyans Indian entry scattering debris across the pit straight.

Marco Andretti commented: "I'm disappointed. You can say its unavoidable but at the time I thought everyone was going and I could only see two rows ahead of me. I couldnt see ahead of the whole field.

"I was about to grab fourth gear, and as soon as the rear tyres were hooking up that was when I needed to be stopping the car so there was no hope. Once you are committed you are kind of stuck with it. In the States you either go or you dont. Here, they went, and then stopped. No one was to blame, it was just racing, but ultimately I crashed out two cars."

Australia's John Martin had lightening reactions to dive left and onto the grass to avoid the accident as the race was immediately red flagged.

After a 30-minute delay the cars lined up in single file to start behind the Safety Car, but Danny Watts was now in trouble having to crawl back to the pits as the Great Britain car was stuck in first gear.

With the race finally underway, Switzerland held the lead as the pack came round for a cautious single file race start. Further down the field, David Garza was under pressure losing out to The Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen, who grabbed seventh round the outside of the Mexican at Turn 9.

South Africa then made a move down the inside of the final hairpin to pass Mexico and as the pair both ran wide, home nation Malaysia was right in the thick of the action, as Fairuz Fauzy snatched eighth going through on the inside of both cars.

South Africa tried to fight back and as the pair went wheel-to-wheel they touched with Malaysia picking up a left rear puncture. Fauzy limped back to the pits much to the disappointment of the Malaysian crowd.

After 3 laps the order at the front settled with Switzerland having a 2.3-second lead from France, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa. With changes to the regulations this season, the cars headed towards their first ever mandatory Sprint race pit stop with France and New Zealand being the first to dive in.

France had a slower stop, and New Zealands Earl Bamber was released alongside France. With New Zealands nose being just ahead France was forced to ease off allowing Bamber to take the position as the pair exited the pit lane. However, the team made the call to give the position back to France to avoid any further penalty for what could be deemed to be an unsafe release.

A lap later Jani pitted and, after a slick stop by the Swiss crew, rejoined with a comfortable lead. A great stop from the Irish team also leap-frogged Adam Carroll ahead of Italy and into fifth. On lap 7 the order was Switzerland still up at the front from New Zealand, France, Portugal, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy and Australia.

Switzerland held on to win the Sepang Sprint race for the third year running to become the fifth different race winner in the five races so far this season.

"It was a great race, we had very good pace, a good re-start and pit stop so it was just a perfect race for me", said Jani.

"The big race is the Feature race though, and we are at the back of the grid so its a totally different task. Its about the average of the weekend and we need to get a good points average."

Frances Loc Duval said: "The pit stop was not that good and I ended up third. I thought New Zealand may have a drive-through or something like that as the car was released in front of me from the stop, but he let me go back past. The car was not that good so we have to improve a little bit for this afternoon but after that, we were ok and there was no problem at all."

"We got a really good pit stop, said Bamber who brought Black Beauty home in third. The team did a fantastic job and it was quite close between me and Loc where I just squeezed past, but the team radioed me to let France back past because of an unsafe release. I let him pass on the back straight and then I finished the race in third. It was a good result so we will see how I do from 15th this afternoon."

Despite what looked like an extremely bad crash at the start, USA, Brazil and India will all be ready to take the grid for this afternoons Feature race, where even more excitement can be expected.

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Team mates support Malik

Malik's style of captaincy had come in for severe criticism from several former players including Imran Khan, Ramiz Raja and even current coach Intikhab Alam.

In a more damning indictment, middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf said he had joined the unauthorised Indian Cricket League in part due to Malik's style of leadership.

But the Pakistan Cricket Board hinted that Malik would be retained as captain after the team's 3-0 series triumph over the West Indies in Abu Dhabi.

"Nothing has been decided about Malik's captaincy, but I think he is committed," said PCB chief executive officer Saleem Altaf.

"He is young and if he gets a chance he might prove himself a good captain."

Younis Khan, who struck a century in the final match against the West Indies, also backed Malik.

"He is learning with time and with every match," said Younis, who was among the contenders to take over if Malik was sacked.

"I suggest that people should leave him alone. He should be made captain for four to five years because he comes under pressure every time there is talk about changing the captain."

Former skipper Wasim Akram, a staunch critic of Malik earlier in his reign, seems to have changed his mind following the recent success.

"Until last year I believed Malik wasn't a good choice as captain, but he has proved me wrong by performing really well in most of the matches Pakistan have played this year," Akram said.

"I think he should be retained."

Inthikab sees a role for Shoaib

"He can play a very important role against India and we will be relying on him to deliver the goods with experience and pace. I don't think he is finished. If nursed properly and he takes care of himself, Shoaib can do more for Pakistan than he has done in recent times," Intikhab, who guided the team to a clean sweep in ODI series against West Indies in Abu Dhabi recently, said today.

"Shoaib is certainly not finished as an international player as yet and he still has a few years to give to Pakistan cricket," he added.

The former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Lt Gen (retd) Tauqir Zia recently advised the PCB to tell the fast bowler to go home and retire as he was finished as an international cricketer.

Intikhab, a former international cricketer, said that Shoaib had been told to follow a rigorous rehabilitation and training programme under the supervision of the team's Australian trainer David Dwyer.

Shoaib regained his berth in the national team recently and went to Abu Dhabi with the squad but didn't play in the series due to a calf strain.

"He is working very hard and doing what he has been asked to do to lose weight, become fitter and sharper and get the match fitness. He was fit for the final match (in Abu Dhabi) but we decided to not risk him on the advice of the trainer," he said. Speaking on the coming home-series against India, the coach insisted, "The series is very much on and we have to start serious preparations for it. All the players have already been given individual programs to keep themselves fit for the series as it is big for us." Intikhab also lauded Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men for their stupendous performance in the recent series against Australia and the ongoing England series.

"India has done really well in recent months and against Australia they were the better side but I think one of the reasons for their success is also the cricket balls they use in domestic cricket and against touring sides.

"The Indian players are well versed with the SG cricket balls and know how to use them well. Compared to the Kookaburra, the SG has a more prominent seam that does not die down after a few overs and is a big help for the spinners and pacers alike. It allows them to take a strong grip and use it effectively," he said.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

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India ready to go for the kill

India need to win just one more match to wrap up the seven-match series, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bravehearts will be no doubt be boosted by the return of an in-form Sachin Tendulkar, as they bid to continue their winning sequence in the floodlit encounter at the Chinaswamy stadium.

The visitors, on the other hand, have been left with the daunting task of winning four matches in a row to clinch the series and it appears extremely unlkely that they would be able to stop the Indian juggernaut.

The return of Tendulkar has no doubt made the Indian batting line-up more formidable but it will also force the hosts to tinker with the batting order.

Tendulkar had been rested for the first three matches of the series after playing in all the four Tests against Australia and it remains to be seen whether he will open the innings with Virender Sehwag.

It will be a tough decision for the Indian team management as making Tendulkar open the innings would mean tinkering with the highly successful opening pair of Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

In case Tendulkar opens, the left-handed Gambhir, who is in very good form, may come in to bat at the number three slot.

Bangalore Pitch set to be a beauty

India's batsmen have plundered runs galore in the first three one-dayers against England, and, with the action moving to the M Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore, MS Dhoni's men are being assured that they can expect to score highly again as they look to make it four wins out of four.

"It's a sporting wicket, and should assist the batsmen more than the bowlers,' Bangalore curator Narayan Raju has revealed.

"The ball will come on to the bat nicely although the first session might help the bowlers," he added.

Raju's revelations will not please the tourists who are desperate for a win after losing by 156 runs in Rajkot, 54 runs in Indore and 16 runs (D/L method) in Rajkot last Thursday.

The day-night match is expected to attract a sell-out crowd.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

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Clarke rides his luck

Clarke, dropped on 21, 90 and 94, rode his luck en route to 112, leaving Australia in position to clinch a draw which would give them a chance of saving the series.

Part-time off-spinner Virender Sehwag completed a five-wicket haul as Australia were eventually bowled out in the last session of the day for 577, only 36 shy of India's first-innings score of 613 for seven declared.

India then lost quick wickets at the start of their second innings and closed the day on 43 for two.

Clarke's hundred, his eighth in Test cricket, saved the day for Australia, but it had looked an unlikely feat at the start.

Clarke was handed a reprieve in just the fourth over of the day when Ishant Sharma put down a straight forward chance at long off.

The New South Wales batsman skipped down the track in an attempt to cart leg-spinner Amit Mishra over the in-field, but hit straight to Ishant, who grassed the regulation catch.

Sehwag had dismissed Shane Watson (36) quickly enough in the morning, but his attempts to add a fifth victim to his haul were twice stymied by poor fielding, Clarke being the beneficiary on both occasions.

Clarke attempted a slog-sweep off the spinner, but the delivery took the top edge and ballooned to VVS Laxman at long-off. Laxman, however, dropped what ought to have been a simple catch.

Four runs later, Clarke swept Sehwag again, this time straight to Mishra at deep square leg. Mishra advanced a touch, but failed to grasp cleanly.

Clarke then brought up his century by swatting a short ball from Sehwag through covers. Only six boundaries and one six studded his eighth Test century.

He finally holed out in the deep to Zaheer Khan, presenting Mishra his second wicket.

Clarke had constructed crucial partnerships worth 73 for the fifth wicket with Watson and 109 for the seventh with Cameron White (44).

Watson was the first to go in the morning, the all-rounder falling after putting on a show of belligerence.

He took 10 runs off three deliveries from an Ishant over and hit a total of eight boundaries, six of them coming through the third man region.

But his resistance ended when Sehwag got one to turn sharply from outside off stump beating Watson as he moved back to defend.

The ball spun enough to clip the top of leg stump.

Kumble, who missed most of the third day due to a finger injury sustained in the morning session, plunged into attack immediately upon returning to the field after 14 overs had been bowled.

He finally picked up his first wicket of the series, getting rid of Brad Haddin.

Haddin skipped down the track to hit Kumble over the top, was beaten by the flight and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had the bails whipped off in a flash.

White showed admirable diligence and patience as he kept out the Indian bowlers, before being bowled via an edge by Sehwag.

Kumble then mopped up the tail, trapping Brett Lee (eight) in front and shortly after running back to collect a catch from Mitchell Johnson (15) off his own bowling, ending Australia's innings.

India then saw opener Sehwag bowled by Lee for 16 and the decision to send in a nightwatchman backfired as Ishant capped a poor day by falling to Stuart Clark for one.

At close, Rahul Dravid, who was rapped on the forearm by a bouncer from Clark, was batting on five and with him was Gautam Gambhir on 21.

India lead the four-match series 1-0.