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  • Lanka whitewash Kiwis, jump to second on ICC rankings

    Sri Lanka clinched second spot behind South Africa in the official rankings as they swept aside New Zealand by 96 runs in the final cricket Test on Sunday to sweep the series 2-0.

    Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath claimed five wickets as the Kiwis, set an improbable victory target of 494 runs, were bowled out for 397 in their second innings just before tea on the fifth day.

    Sri Lanka had to overcome spirited batting by Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori and heavy rain during the lunch break that delayed resumption by 35 minutes to build on their 202-run win in the first Test at Galle.

    Vettori hit 140, his fourth Test century, to lead a stirring fightback by the lower order after the top batsmen had failed to put up any resistance. The left-hander frustrated the Sri Lankans for more than four hours in which he faced 189 deliveries and hit 16 boundaries, before he was last man to be dismissed. Vettori scored 272 runs and claimed 10 wickets in the series, and in the process became only the eighth batsman in the world to achieve the double of 3,000 runs and 300 wickets.

    Vettori put on 124 for the seventh wicket with Jacob Oram (56) and 69 for the ninth with Iain O'Brien, who kept his captain company at the crease for an hour and 18 minutes while making a paltry 12. The hosts, who were joint second in the rankings with India, needed to win both Tests to claim the number two spot on their own. India are now third while Ashes losers Australia take fourth place.

    The success leaves Kumar Sangakkara with four wins in five matches as Sri Lanka's captain since taking over from Mahela Jayawardene in the preceding home series against Pakistan.

    New Zealand, who began the last day gasping for survival at 182-6, lost just one wicket in the morning session as they went to lunch on 302-7, the merest whiff of an unlikely upset in their nostrils.

    Oram was dismissed just before the break when he drove part-time spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan uppishly to the cover region where Sangakkara took an overhead catch. Vettori and Oram had survived a torrid spell from fast bowler Dammika Prasad, who was unlucky not to dismiss both batsmen in the space of four deliveries.

    Vettori was on 32 when he edged Prasad between the first two slips, but neither fielder moved to take the catch. Prasad hit Oram on the pads with the last ball of the over, but umpire Daryl Harper was unmoved even as television replays showed the batsman plumb in front of the wicket. Sri Lanka suffered a minor setback before lunch when Muttiah Muralitharan limped off with a groin strain after bowling three balls of his 21st over. Thilan Thushara completed the over. But Muralitharan, Test cricket's leading bowler, returned after lunch to have Jeetan Patel caught at short-leg for 12 and then had Vettori snapped up in the deep to signal Sri Lanka's victory.

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    Three Khel Ratnas shine bright at Rashtrapati Bhawan

    Olympic heroes boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar, along with four-time world champion woman pugilist M C Mary Kom, were today conferred the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in a glittering ceremony in New Delhi.

    For the first time in the history of national sports awards, three sportspersons were individually bestowed India's highest sporting honour, which comes with an enhanced cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh and a newly-designed statuette.

    It was also a red letter day for 15 other sportspersons, who received the Arjuna award from President Pratibha Patil at the Ashok Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

    Prominent among them were cricketer Gautam Gambhir, world number seven badminton player Saina Nehwal, Asian chess champion Tania Sachdev and hockey player Ignace Tirkey.

    Like the Khel Ratna winners, Arjuna awardees also got a newly-designed statuette, along with citations and an enhanced cash prize of Rs five lakh each.

    For the first time in six years, a cricketer – Gambhir – was bestowed the Arjuna award. Since 2003, when off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was given the honour, no male cricketer had been included in the Arjuna awards list.

    Gambhir is currently the world number one Test batsman in ICC rankings and has been consistently doing well as an opener.

    Saina, on the other hand, has risen meteorically in the international circuit over the past couple of years winning two premier events. She also made it to quarterfinals in her Olympic debut in Beijing.

    Saina's mentor and former badminton player Pullela Gopichand, India's assistant boxing coach at the Beijing Olympics Jaidev Bisht and Sushil's coach Satpal Singh were among the four Dronacharya awardees.

    They also received a statuette, citation and an enhanced cash prize of Rs five lakh. "It's the biggest moment of my career and I feel honoured," said Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender, who will leave for the World Championships in Italy in the wee hours on Sunday morning.

    "I am happy that wrestling has got recognition. It is a big achievement for me," added Sushil, who also won a bronze medal, India's first in 54 years, in Beijing.

    Mary Kom dedicated her award to her two-year-old twin sons K Rechungvar Kom and K Khupneivar Kom. "This is for my sons. They are my life. Had they been older, I would have brought them here," the 27-year-old four-time world champion said. The Sports Ministry also instituted a new award this year, 'The Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar', which was shared by Tata Steel Limited and the Railways Sports Promotion Board in different categories.

    After the furore caused by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh's no-show at the Padma awards this years, the sports ministry had issued stern guidelines asking athletes to inform in advance if they were to remain absent.

    Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: M C Mary Kom (Boxing), Vijender Singh (Boxing) Sushil Kumar (Wrestling).

    Arjuna Awards: Mangal Singh Champia (Archery), Sinimole Paulose (Athletics), Saina Nehwal (Badminton), L Sarita Devi (Boxing), Tania Sachdev (Chess), Gautam Gambhir (Cricket), Ignace Tirkey (Hockey), Surinder Kaur (Hockey), Pankaj Navanath Shirsat (Kabaddi), Satish Joshi (Rowing), Ronjan Sodhi (Shooting), Poulomi Ghatak (Table Tennis), Yogeshwar Dutt (Wrestling), Girdhari Lal Yadav (Yachting), Parul D. Parmar (Badminton, Disabled).

    Dhyan Chand Awards: Ishar Singh Deol (Athletics), Satbir Singh Dahya (Wrestling).

    Dronacharya Awards: Pullela Gopichand (Badminton), Jaidev Bisht (Boxing), S Baldev Singh (Hockey), Satpal (Wrestling).

    Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar: Community Sports Identification and Nurturing of Budding Young Talent (TATA Steel Ltd), Financial Support for Sports Excellence (None qualified), Establishment and Management of Sports Academies of Excellence (TATA Steel Ltd), Employment of Sportspersons and sports welfare measures (Railways Sports Promotion Board).

    India will mount serious challenge at Champions Trophy: Kirsten

    India will recover quickly from their early exit at the Twenty20 World Cup and are certain to mount a serious challenge at the Champions Trophy in South Africa next month, coach Gary Kirsten said.

    India have recalled Rahul Dravid to the one-day team for the first time in almost two years to bolster their batting on pacy South African pitches at the Sept. 22-Oct. 5 Champions Trophy.

    A young Indian batting unit struggled against short-pitched bowling in the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.

    “We have had a good run right from the tour of Australia and there is great team spirit, though the World Twenty20 was a setback,” the former South Africa opener told reporters after the national team’s training camp in Bangalore on Thursday.

    “We are very positive and all of us want to move on,” Kirsten said.

    India, who will also participate in a tri-series in Sri Lanka that featuring New Zealand from Sept. 8-14, have not lost a one-day series in the past year following a surprise tri-series victory in Australia last February.

    We take pride in our consistency over a long period. It is a quality team and the players are mentally fresh and look good physically too,” Kirsten said.

    “It is good to have Rahul Dravid back in the team. He adds massive value to the team,” Kirsten said of the former captain, who is only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar to score over 10,000 runs in both test and one-day forms.

    Tendulkar has also returned after opting out of the one-day series in the West Indies, which the tourists won 2-1 last month, but explosive opener Virender Sehwag will miss both tournaments after undergoing shoulder surgery.

    Ishant Sharma will spearhead the five-man pace attack in the absence of experienced left-armer Zaheer Khan, who has been ruled out of action until the end of the year after undergoing surgery on an injured shoulder.

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    Pak still optimistic about hosting 2011 World Cup

    Even after giving up their claim to host the 2011 World Cup matches, Pakistan Cricket Board claimed on Friday that the strife-torn country may still get to host some games if the security situation improves in the next few months.

    "We can ask the ICC to send a security delegation to review the security situation in Pakistan and if the situation has improved we can end up still hosting some of our matches at home," Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt said.

    Butt, however, made it clear that the final decision would be with the ICC and the hosting of matches would depend on teams willing to tour Pakistan.

    "But we are hopeful because already the security situation is improving in Pakistan and it will hopefully get better in next five to six months," he said on Friday.

    Pakistan was stripped of its share of 14 World Cup matches by the ICC board in April after the Sri Lankan cricket team came under a terrorist attack in Lahore in which six policemen were killed and six players were injured.

    Pakistan mounted a legal challenge against the ICC to get back the hosting rights and a final settlement was negotiated yesterday after talks between Butt and ICC President David Morgan.

    Under the settlement, Butt said Pakistan now has to withdraw all its legal petitions against the ICC in 15 days including the one over the shifting of the World Cup secretariat from Lahore to Mumbai.

    "We are in return guaranteed that we will retain hosting rights of our matches which will, however, be held in the other World Cup host countries. But we will paid around 1500 million rupees as compensation by the ICC including the hosting fees for the matches," Butt said.

    The PCB chief said it was a good deal for Pakistan although it was disappointing not to be able to host World Cup matches.

    "I think at a time when teams are not willing to tour Pakistan and India has frozen bilateral ties with us we needed this World Cup money. Because we don't want a situation where we have to go around with a begging bowl."

    Butt also defended the decision to file a legal challenge against the ICC in the first place. "All the decisions were taken after consulting our lawyers. We took decisions after careful thinking and I think today we have emerged with lot of benefits from this dispute because of the fact that we challenged the ICC decision legally," he said.

    Butt also said that Pakistan had proposed hosting its share of matches at Abu Dhabi and Dubai but India opposed the move.

    "Simply because there is no clause in the World Cup agreement the ICC has with the host countries that allow the matches to be held outside the host countries," he said.

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    IPL first season made Rs 661 cr, BCCI got only Rs 15 cr

    In its first season, the Indian Premier League (IPL) contributed less than Rs 15 crore to the coffers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

    A draft note on the IPL’s income and expenditure in the year ended March 2009, part of the BCCI’s detailed financial accounts being circulated among board members for their perusal, shows that while the high-profile tournament generated Rs 661 crore in total income, its surplus, which is the amount left after accounting for expenses, was only Rs 14.86 crore.

    The expenses included share of franchisees in IPL’s income from media rights and sponsorships, prize money, opening ceremony expenses, advertisements, and Rs 26 crore as compensation to Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for the cancelled Champions League 2008.

    Two senior members of BCCI confirmed that the board was reviewing its accounts for the 2008-09 year and a draft copy of the financial statements had been sent to the members for vetting. The accounts are expected to be approved by the board in its meeting scheduled for September 2.

    According to the draft note, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, one of the biggest contributors to IPL’s income were the media rights sold to broadcast company Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd and sports marketing company World Sports Group.

    The league got Rs 242 crore in the first year from the deal, which was negotiated at $1.02 billion for 10 years. This included a $108 million commitment for promoting the event. The media rights were renegotiated with the same partners at $1.6 billion, for nine years, from the second season onwards.

    In the first year, franchisee consideration brought in around Rs 290 crore and sponsorships Rs 111 crore. Among the other sources of income were pouring rights (Rs 10 crore) signed with beverage company PepsiCo.

    As promised by the IPL management, a large part of the revenue generated was shared with franchisees and also on initiatives to build the excitement around the event. Around Rs 220 crore, for instance, was awarded to franchisees as part of their share in IPL's central revenue pool. The league also shared the Rs 10 crore from the income from pouring rights with the franchisees. The IPL management spent around Rs 33 crore on advertising, whereas league and administrative expenses accounted for an additional Rs 65 crore.

    Lalit Modi, the chairman of IPL, declined to comment saying he had not seen the accounts. He, however, said: “...profits may have been less, but you should look at the total money (generated by IPL).”

    M P Pandove, honorary treasurer of the BCCI, said he could not comment on the issue because the financial accounts of BCCI for 2008-09 were still with the auditors

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    Captain, coach vote in selection unnecessary: Vengsarkar

    Former India captain and ex-chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar has termed as "unnecessary" the New Zealand Cricket's decision to have captain and coach's say in selection matters even as ex-Australia coach John Buchanan backed the move.

    Vengsarkar feels it was just not necessary for the NZC to give voting rights to their captain Daniel Vettori and coach Andy Moles because selection panel already comprises a certain number of people to take decision.

    "I feel it is absolutely unnecessary. I feel the captain and coach should be consulted but that's about it. If you already have selectors, three, four, five or whatever number, then why have two more," said Vengsarkar, who was also the chairman of selectors between 2006 and 2008. Buchanan, however, felt it was a wise move as it would give additional power to the coach.

    "It would help build the future of New Zealand cricket by giving additional power to the coach. It is definitely a good move," Buchanan said.

    If you take the current case of New Zealand, the coach is involved not only in shaping the team for the current series in Sri Lanka, but he is also very much involved in trying to shape New Zealand cricket's future," he was quoted as saying in 'Cricinfo'.

    Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss also said voting rights weren't essential as long as the opinions of the captain and coach were taken into account. "If you have got four or five different thoughts on how the game should be played, or on the balance of the team, then that gives more options," Bayliss said.

    The best teams are ones who have more options. Even if the coach and the captain don't get a vote on the selection process, they get a fair hearing from the selectors in 99 per cent of the cases," he said.

    "You don't want to have a case where the captain and coach are pulling in different directions. It is all about having a good discussion and reaching unified decisions. "It is good to have different opinions in selection but once the decision is made then you (captain and coach) support it. So, whether you actually get either a vote or a good hearing, I don't see a big difference," he said.

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    Sri Lanka makes solid start on Vettori's big day

    New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori became only the eighth player in history to achieve the double of 3,000 runs and 300 wickets as Sri Lanka made a steady start in the second cricket Test on Wednesday.

    The left-arm spinner, who has scored 3,329 runs, claimed his 300th wicket when he dismissed his Sri Lankan counterpart Kumar Sangakkara in the afternoon session of the first day's play.

    Sangakkara, former captain Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera scored half-centuries as Sri Lanka went to stumps at 262-3 on a firm wicket that Vettori said "looked like a road" at the toss.

    Jayawardene was unbeaten on 79 and Samaraweera was on 78, having shared a fourth-wicket stand of 147 after tight bowling by the Black Caps had kept the Sri Lankans on a tight leash.

    When play began 30 minutes late due to a wet outfield, Sri Lanka plodded to 146-3 by tea before Jayawardene and Samaraweera caned the second new ball in the final session to boost the total.

    Vettori, 30, joined a select band of all-rounders that includes Kapil Dev of India, Ian Botham of England, Richard Hadlee of New Zealand, Imran Khan of Pakistan, Shane Warne of Australia, Shaun Pollock of South Africa and Sri Lankan Chaminda Vaas.

    Vettori is already the most successful left-arm spinner in history, having surpassed Englishman Derek Underwood's tally of 297 wickets in the first Test in Galle last week.

    Vettori, who began the match with 298 wickets, had left-handed opener Tharanga Paranavitana (19) edging his second delivery to Ross Taylor in the slips.

    Sri Lanka suffered a crucial blow in the third over after lunch when Tillakaratne Dilshan, who hit 92 and 123 not out in the first Test, was dismissed for a unusually lacklustre 29.

    Seamer Iain O'Brien, who had dropped a return catch off the previous delivery, made no mistake second time as Dilshan mis-timed a drive and looped the ball back to the bowler.

    Sangakkara and Jayawardene had put on 40 for the third wicket when Vettori was rewarded a second time during an unchanged 17-over spell to reach the milestone.

    Sangakkara, who made 50, pulled a short ball to mid-wicket where Jacob Oram took the catch and ran to his team-mates to join in the celebrations for their captain.

    Vettori claimed the second new ball as soon as it was due after 80 overs and himself bowled the first over with it, before handing it to his two main seam bowlers.

    Sri Lanka made three changes from the team that won the first Test in Galle, leaving out all-rounder Angelo Mathews, spinner Ajantha Mendis and seamer Nuwan Kulasekara.

    They were replaced by batsman Chamara Kapugedera, seamer Dammika Prasad and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

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    Younis wants to beat India in Champions Trophy

    Pakistan captain Younis Khan says he has a "burning ambition" to set the record straight against India by defeating them in the Champions Trophy beginning in South Africa next month.

    Since the ICC launched the 50-overs World Cup in 1975 and other world events, Pakistan has only once defeated India in these events when they won at Birmingham in the 2004 Champions Trophy.

    "The fact that we lost twice to India in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and then also in that World Cup match in 2003 in South Africa still hurts," Younis said.

    "India is a very good one-day side but it is my burning ambition to set the record straight against them and defeat them this time in the Champions Trophy in South Africa this time," he said.

    Bilateral cricket ties between the two countries has remained suspended since the terror attacks in Mumbai last November with India cancelling a scheduled Test tour to Pakistan in January this year

    "It would be a big moment when we play India in the Champions Trophy pool match at the Centurion on September 26 as we have not played against each other for a while now," Younis said.

    "It will not be easy but we have some extra incentive to beat India given our track record in South Africa," he added.

    Younis refused to rule out defending champions Australia as a strong contender for the Champions Trophy due to their recent Ashes series defeat in England.

    "It would be foolish to rule out Australia just because they have lost the Ashes. They have a strong domestic structure and this ensures they have good back up talent. It is a matter of time before they settle down and stage a strong fight back," he said.

    Younis said he had a lot of respect for Australia and said although they have lost the Ashes they were capable of doing well in the Champions Trophy under an experienced captain like Ricky Ponting.

    "You can never rule out teams like Australia or South Africa. They comeback strongly because they stick to their basic plans very well and they have back up plans as well all the time."

    The Pakistan captain said his team was capable of winning the Champions trophy as they had a good combination of players and felt Mohammad Asif's selection would add depth to the bowling attack.

    "But he (Asif) has not played for a long time and we will not be putting too much pressure on him. We are not going to South Africa with high expectations from him. He will require time to settle down in international cricket again."

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    I want to be like McGrath: Broad

    He is seen as potential replacement of just retired all rounder Andrew Flintoff but England's emerging star Stuart Broad wants to emulate his 'role model' Glenn McGrath. With a hostile spell, Broad fashioned England's win in the fifth Ashes match, after which Flintoff bid adieu to Test cricket.

    Injured batsman Kevin Pietersen had said that Flintoff's retirement would leave a void in the team but Broad is the man to fill that.

    Reacting to observation, the young pacer said it would be an achievement if he could do half of what Flintoff has done in his career but he is more inclined to emulate Australian pace legend McGrath, who has 560 Test wickets to his name.

    "McGrath has always been a role model for me ever since I was a really young lad. What did do? He just banged out a length at the top of off stump and ran it back into off stump and his record speaks for itself.

    If I could be half as good as Glenn McGrath, that would be fantastic," Broad told reporters at the team's hotel here. Broad was also hailed by Australian spin legend Shane Warne, who in his column heaped praise on the young pacer for his disciplined bowling in the fifth and final Test, which

    England won to regain Ashes. Broad also contributed with bat in England's cause, chipping in with valuable cameos intermittently.

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