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December 2008 - January 2009

India Sport Scene

Cricket-Hockey -Chess-Badminton

by Ramesh Seedhar, Dr C. P Dalvi & Sudhir Misra

India versus Australia The Border Gavaskar trophy

This has been a momentous year for Indian cricket and in particular the Border Gavaskar series between India and Australia. India gave an ample proof of their status as a dominant force in world cricket as they thrashed Australia by 172 runs in the fourth and final cricket test to regain the coveted Border-Gavaskar trophy after a gap of four years. The victory over the World Champions closed the gap in ICC rankings and India is now second behind Australia, marginally ahead of South Africa. A victory over England in the forthcoming test series would confirm their status.

In the fourth and final test Australia were set a daunting target of 382 for victory, the Indians exploited a turning fifth day track to bowl out the Aussies for 209 runs to win the four-match series with a 2-0 margin and regain the Gavaskar-Border trophy.

For Australia only Matthew Hayden provided any opposition, while for India the leg spinner Amit Mishra (3/27) and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (4/64) ably assisted by Ishant Sharma were the main destroyers.

M S Dhoni comprehensively out captained his counter part Ricky Ponting. He made precisely the right moves with his field placing and bowling changes. Ricky Ponting was charged for handing over the initiative to India in the second innings by using part time bowlers to compensate for the slow over rates by his pace bowlers. However the Australians were still fined for their slow over rate by the match referee.

For the first time in decades the Australians looked vulnerable. Previously it has taken towering performances to bring down Australians. Now everybody will fancy a piece of them.

During the series, two of the old guard bowed to the challenge by the youth.

Anil Kumble, India’s most successful bowler walked into the sunset by calling it quits. It was an end to an era for a champion who called it a day after eighteen long years. The man they said could not bowl a leg spin had silenced his critics and kept his detractors at bay by taking wickets after wickets.

Kumble’s phenomenal record speaks for itself. He took his first 50 wickets in just 10 test matches, the fastest by an Indian at that time and was the second fastest Indian bowler to reach 100 test wickets. Erapalli Prasanna was the fastest. In 1993 he took 6 wickets for 12 runs in an ODI against the West Indies cricket team. This was a record for the best bowling figures by an Indian, a record that has remained until now unbeaten. He also achieved the distinction of having taken all 10 wickets in a test innings. This was against Pakistan in the second test in Delhi in 1999. In 2004 he became India’s highest wicket taker when he beat Kapil Devi’s haul of 434 wickets and this year became the first Indian bowler and the third in the world after Muttiah Murlitharan and Shane Warne to reach 600 wickets. Kumble also holds the world record for the highest number of caught and bowled dismissals.

Kumble does not need to prove anything to any one. His cricket and the dignity with which he has handled the highs and lows have earned him respect throughout the cricket playing countries.

Human nature is such that you often understand the true value of something only in its absence. This is true for Kumble, for a bowler of his efficacy India has never had before and perhaps never will again.

Kumble’s final test at the Firoz Shah Kotla grounds in Delhi may not have evoked the fond memories for him. For it was here that he conjured up many of the magical moments that led India to famous victories in the past. It was here that he took 10 wickets in a test match against Pakistan in 1999. It was here that he decided to quit. The moment Kumble’s abrupt decision to hang on the boots was flashed on the giant screen, the third test match between India and Australia became a sideshow.

Now the third test will be remembered where Anil Kumble, a great Indian cricketer played his last test. Here he was lifted by his overwhelmed team mates to make a round of the Firoz Shah Kotla for the last time.

The fourth and the final test against Australia will be remembered about Sourav Ganguly, where his dream debut in test cricket ended with a fairy tale ending.

The Indian victory over Australia turned out to be a perfect gift for Sourav Ganguly in his farewell Test.

Although in the first innings, he was just 15 runs away from a perfect ending and then failed to score in the second, it, in no way, diminished his gripping but tumultuous career.

However the ups and down has been the story of Sourav Ganguly over the last 17 years, so how could it not end without a little irony. Ganguly has been a man of second chances. He made his international debut in 1992 but was immediately sent back only to return four years later with a dream debut in tests. His magical timing and divine drives catapulted him into the elite class. Soon he became the other part of the formidable opening pair with Tendulkar.

By 2000 Indian cricket was going through a catharsis. Tendulkar’s failure as a captain followed by Azhuruddin and the controversy of match fixing had taken Indian cricket to its lowest ebb. Finally Ganguly was handed over the captaincy and he breathed not only a new life but also steel and fighting spirit into the team. Steadily he created a mean machine and India were winning matches away from home. Inevitably he became India’s most successful captain.

The black cloud however gathered again on Ganguly and as the fight with Greg Chappell spilled over, Ganguly found him haunted out of the team. To everybody it seemed the end of his career but Ganguly wanted to retire on his own terms.

As the Indian run machine sputtered in South Africa, the selectors turned to him again and he did not disappoint them. He braved the short pitch bowling that had been his nightmare with grit and steadfastness and rediscovered his form and then became a permanent member of the team India again.

In his last test at Nagpur against the Australians, after a slow and steady start he gave a virtuoso performance with cover drives, delicate flicks and late cuts reminiscent of the old Ganguly.

Carried high over the shoulders of his team mates with deafening applause ringing in his ears, Sourav Ganguly who had announced that he would quit the game after this series said good bye to test cricket. Ganguly had led the Indian team after Dhoni had made him the captain on the last day with a historic victory over the Australians.

The former India skipper, who missed the chance to score a century in his farewell appearance after having started his Test career with a debut century at Lord’s in 1996 faded from the limelight with the happiness that he was part of a victorious team at the end.

The Border Gavaskar trophy will also be remembered for the fact during this series Tendulkar became the highest test run getter by beating Brian Lara’s record.

When Sachin Tendulkar went past Brian Lara’s magical figure of 11953 test runs and subsequently breached the 12000 runs, cricket crazy India went into frenzy. He celebrated the moment even as a display of fireworks marked the extraordinary occasion on the first day of the second test.

The Australians walked up to him to congratulate in a display of genuine appreciation even though he had tormented them for the most part. True greatness cuts through barriers.

During his innings of 88 runs he lit the arena up with his stroke play and breached the 12000 run barrier. It was a giant stride by a little man. While his aggregate may probably be surpassed by someone in the years to come, it is difficult to see if any body will cover the journey with a personality as great as that of Sachin Tendulkar. He has been a role model for all young Indian cricketers.

Sachin Tendulkar’s incredible journey has not been without road blocks. He has been through phases of failures, threat from injuries and pressures, but he has overcome them with poise. However it has been a great story.

Sachs upholds Gambhir Ban

BCCI protests verdict

Opener Vijay gets callup

India’s endeavour to finish the series against Australia on a winning note was dealt a blow after International Cricket Council Appeals Commissioner Justice Albie Sachs upheld the one test ban on Gautam Gambhir without conducting a hearing into the matter. The in-form India opener, who scored 206 and 36 in two stints during the third test in Delhi missed the Nagpur Test- a decision the Indian Cricket control Board refused to accept. The selectors, though, have called up Tamil Nadu opener M. Vijay to fill the vacancy. Justice Sachs refused to give any extension of time to Gambhir.

Man of the Match, VVS Laxman, who scored 200 not out and 59 not out is now 11 with a place in the top ten within reach. Sehwag’s 5 -104

in Australia’s 577 of India proved a winner.

“I would like to be remembered as a player who put team before self and always gave 100 percent”, said a nostalgic Anil Kumble India’s most successful bowler after announcing his retirement from international cricket at the Kotla cricket ground in Delhi. Kumble took the cricket fraternity by surprise when he announced his decision during the final day play of the third India-Australia Test match in Delhi. After a finger injury and low physical fitness constantly nagging him. Nicknamed Jumbo by team mates Kumble had decided to retire a day before and informed his close colleagues and friends. But only during tea time. Going by the facts, Kumble’s success in Tests, finishing as the third highest wicket taker 619 from 132 matches, behind Muralitharan 756 and Shane Warne 708, is phenomenal.

4th Test - Avantage India after Sachin’s ton

All the pre match talk of India having to contend with many distractions were grounded to dust by a thoroughly professional batting display. Sachin Tendulkar added further glitter to his sparkling CV with a splendidly timed 109 (188), as India finished the opening day 311-5. Tendulkar’s 40th tend hundred was also 10th against the world champions. Sachin also set a new world record for having appeared in maximum number of test venues. Laxman who laboured for 159 minutes for his 50 finally perished to the square cut after managing 64, Krejza getting the ball to turn sharply. Earlier debutant M. Vijay did everything possible to prove that he belonged to this class. Sehwag played some audacious shots, holding his wrists firm and maintaining fine balance with 66 runs in 69 balls. Indian were all out with 441 runs. Australia were bowled out for 355 runs.

India set Aussies a daunting total. Australia needed a further 369 runs to win the final test against India after closing the penultimate day on 13 -0 Virender Sehwag struck a fluent 42 as India raced to 116-0, before they lost three quick wickets including Sourav Ganguly by first ball in his final test. But Australia chose to use occasional bowlers in a bid to speed up their slow over rate and Dhoni hit 55 in a vital 108 stand with Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan fired his sixth Test fifty. As India, who lead 1-0 made 295 all out. India beat Australia by 172 runs in the final test in Nagpur to seal a 2-0 series victory and win back the much coveted Border-Gavaskar trophy. Harbhajan’s 4-64 and Amit Misha’s 3-27 wreaked havoc on the final afternoon, as Aussies collapsed from 111-2 at lunch to 209 all out. Mathew Hayden went down fighting with a typically belligerent 77 and Cameron White made a valiant 26 not out. But India’s spinners held sway, making maximum use of the worn wicket.

England in India : the first ODI

Chasing a mammoth victory target of 388 runs, helped by an unbeaten century by Yuvraj Singh, England were bowled out for 229 runs in 37.4 overs.

England were never in control in their run chase and kept losing wickets at regular intervals and it was only England captain Kevin Pietersen who stood tall amidst the ruins and shone with the bat hitting seven fours and two sixes in his 56-ball knock of 63 runs.

England started their run chase on a poor note as they were rocked by the Indian seamers losing five wickets with just 76 runs on the board. Zaheer Khan played a major role in wrecking the England batting line-up by taking 3/26 off seven overs. Zaheer’s three wickets included two in one over and he was ably supported by Munaf Patel and RP Singh who took a wicket each to deny any breathing space to the English batsmen.

The Second ODI -Monday 16 November

Mahender Singh Dhoni’s team won the second ODI played in Indore beating England by 58 runs. Yuvraj Singh scored his second successive century and then took four key wickets as India maintained their stranglehold over England by winning the second ODI on Monday by 54 runs.

The Indian team’s total of 292 for nine with the support of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan was too big a challenge for England to beat.

The 26-year-old Yuvraj, who recovered from a back injury just in time to be drafted into the team, came out with a stunning all-round display to play the pivotal role in India's victory on a rather slow track at the Indore Cricket Ground.

Yuvraj, who had blasted an unbeaten 138 off just 78 balls in the first One-dayer in Rajkot to mark his return to form, not only scored his tenth century but also helped the hosts recover from an early slump which saw them tottering at 29 for three at one stage. He then proved his ability as a left-arm spinner by returning dream figures of 10-0-28-4 which included the prized heads of Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and Owais Shah.

The England innings never really got the momentum to meet India's target with none of the batsmen really getting a big knock to keep them in the hunt. Owais Shah (58), Andrew Flintoff (43), Matt Prior (38) and Kevin Pietersen (33) got the starts but could not hang around long enough.

At one stage Flintoff and Pietersen showed some grit; but with the departure of the two, the remaining fell like nine pins. The two teams will now travel to Kanpur for the third ODI. They will be playing a total of seven games.


The Under 21 hockey tour of Pakistan by India that was to be played in Karachi followed by Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Lahore has been called off by the Indian government amid fears of security.


By vanquishing Vladimir Kramnik in match play at World Chess Championships, Viswanathan Anand has not only won the world title but also gained greater credibility.

At the packed Art and Exhibition hall in Bonn, an elite crowd, mostly Germans gave a standing ovation for over two minutes to Anand after he received the winner’s trophy. Germans later applauded him even more vociferously when he gave part of his thanks giving speech in German.

In what will be known in Chess history as the “battle of Bonn” Anand extracted revenge over Vladimir Kramnik over the remarks the latter had made when he was dethroned by Anand at the World Championships last year.

After his loss in Mexico, Kramnik had remarked in an interview “that on paper Anand may be world champion, but from my point of view, there is difference in significance between a title won in a match and in a tournament. For me the forthcoming match in Bonn is more important. If I lose that, I will accept completely that I have lost the title but at this moment I have no such feelings.”

Anand was determined to silence the Russian and many other critics and that he did with a masterful display in Bonn.

Anand later said that for him Mexico was beautiful as he won the title for the first time.

Anand has been an inspirational player for young Indians. After Viswanathan Anand’s triumph in the World Championship, there was more success for India. At the World Youth Chess Championship at Vung Tau, Vietnam where Indian youngsters bagged four gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

In the Under-12 boy’s section Kolkata’s Sayantan Das struck gold, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi in the U-14 boy’s section, Padmini Rout in the U-14 girl’s section and B Adhiban in the U-16

SP Sethuraman in Boys under 16U and R Preethi in Under-18 girl’s finished runner-up with silver, while Pratyusha Bodda and Debashish Das won bronze in the U-12 girl’s and U-16 boy’s sections, respectively. Another lad from Bengal Diptayan Ghosh also performed creditably finishing fourth in the U-10 boy’s section.


Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to clinch the World Junior Badminton Championships in straight sets.

After beating the Chinese Shixian Wong in the semi-final in a hard fought game Saina sailed through in the final against the ninth seed Sayaka Sato from Japan.

This has been a great year for Saina, who reached the quarter finals in Beijing Olympics earlier this year. With the Commonwealth Youth Gold and the World Junior title now won, Saina looks to improve her world ratings from 11 by competing at the China Open and Hong Kong Open later this year.

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