Hamilton stripped of Belgian Grand Prix win

In the most bizarre Formula Grand prix of the year, Lewis Hamilton was stripped of his win at the Belgian Grand prix due to a penalty of 25 seconds given to him. Ferrari’s Felipa Massa stood first while Lewis finished third after the penalty.
Spa Francorchamps is one of the best driving circuits of the Formula one calendar, with enough room for overtaking at almost all points of the racing track, it makes for a fantastic race. And for the last three years, it was one man who had ruled the Belgian Grand Prix- Kimi Raikkonen. He had won with Mclaren in 2005 and 2006 and won last here with Ferrari as he went on to become World champion. Kimi had a string of poor results and critics had begun doubting whether he had the desire left in him to go for the drivers championship or had Massa become Ferrari’s top driver. Kimi started the race in 4th place, but if there were any doubts of his racing form, they were all swept aside as Kimi took the lead in the first lap itself. On the first corner of the race Kimi overtook Heiki Kovalainen, and went on to clinch the race lead after going past both Massa and Hamilton by the end of the first lap. The Finnish driver led the race for the next 42 laps. But as faith would have it, crashed out in the closing stages of the lap. Hamilton was at Raikkonen’s tail before the heaven gods played havoc and poured in the last few laps of the race. Even the weather stations of the respective teams that are situated at the top of the nearby mountains, were of no avail as all the teams were not ready for this challenge. With the drives having no option but to stay on dry weather tyres, driving on the circuit become really tough. The track begun to get wet and it was left to race leader Raikkonen to look for dry spots and maneuver his car through the circuit. At this point Lewis began putting pressure on Kimi and with the tyres not finding grip on the wet track. What followed was two really determined drivers going wheel to wheel for the race lead. With the track conditions really wet, both drivers slid of the circuit but coming back to join the battle. It was here that Lewis cut through a chicane to have an unfair advantage over Kimi. After the chicane it was lewis leading but backed off thinking that the stewards would give him an instant penalty. The next moment, Raikonnen had crashed and it was now a race left for Hamilton to lose. He crawled on to the finish line amidst treacherous conditions for drivers. Massa too made it to the finish line in the second place.
But the real drama began after the race was over, when the race stewards decided to give Hamilton a twenty five second penalty for having missed the chicane while trying to overtake Raikkonen on the penultimate lap of the race. Thus after the penalty, Massa was declared the winner with Nick Heidfeld coming second and Hamilton making it to the third spot. Though Hamilton didn’t win the race, he maintained his lead over closest rival Massa by two points. As for Raikkonen, his dreams of retaining the drivers championship may not be fulfilled as he crashed out after having driven a stunner of the race and lead the Belgian Grand prix for forty one of the forty four laps. At the end of the Belgian Grand prix, it is Hamilton who still maintains his lead of two points over Felipe Massa whereas Raikkonen has fallen to the fourth position in the drivers championship. With just five races to go in the season, the race for the winner of the Drivers champion will go right down to the wire.

India wins maiden bilateral series in Lanka

After the Test series debacle, Dhoni’s men redeemed themselves by winning India’s maiden bilateral series in Sri Lanka by winning the fourth one dayer in Columbo. Meanwhile the fear of the duo of Mendis and Murali has all but disappeared.
The pundits had written the Indian ODI team off even before the series had got rolling. Largely due to the disappointing performance of the Indian batsmen against the duo of Mendis and Murali in the test series which India lost 2-1. But Dhoni’s men have gotten used to being the underdogs before the start of a series and yet emerging triumphs at the end of it. The ODI series down under early this year was one such example. But the side filled with young rising talent was a treat to watch in this series a they went from strength to strength and managed to pull off the series even with a match in hand. Even in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag both of whom had to pull out due to injuries, the Indian bench made up for their absence.
A victory in Sri Lanka is always sweet. The last bilateral series in Sri Lanka had India face an embarrassing defeat of 3-0 and confirmed the fact that taming the Sri Lankan lions in their own backyard is not such a frivolous task. But finally India succeeded in triumphing in an ODI series here and this success can be attributed to the team work and the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Right from calling the coin correctly, Dhoni has not set a foot wrong in this series. He led from the front especially in the last two matches in Colombo. But what is important to note is the way he motivated the team after the embarrassing loss in the first one dayer in Dambula. The Indian team was expected to lose this series badily as none of the batsmen had any experience whatsoever against the duo of Mendis and Murali and that too on spinner friendly tracks in Sri Lanka. But the young Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and even Badrinath applied themselves to the early swing of the experienced Vaas and against the guile of Mendis and Murali. They applied themselves, used their feet and were not scared of hopping down the pitch in order to counter the spin. During the test series it was just one batsman Sachin Tendulkar who had tried to get aggressive against the spin duo. But in the one day series it was all the batsmen who went aggressively against the Sri Lankan spinners and emerged triumphant at the end.
But the primary reason why the Indians have got the series in the bag has been the success of the Indian bowlers. The pace bowlers Zaheer and Praveen kumar have always picked up wickets with the new ball. Right from pitching the ball in the right areas to getting early break throughs, the Indian pacers have laid the foundation for Harbhajan to come and clean up the tail. Even the fifth bowler in the form of Yuvraj Singh has picked up wickets at regular intervals.
The series win against Sri Lanka would come as a huge sigh of relief for the thousands of the Indian fans who had given up after the test series. But this win will do wonders to the confidence of the Indian ODI team who has just started a fresh innings under the reign of Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has appeared to be calm and unperturbed even when faced with tremendous pressure. The Indian team can only get better from here and after the infusion of Sachin and Sehwag at the top of the order, this team will have the perfect mix of flamboyant aggressive youth and dependable experience.

Nadal the King in Beijing as well

Just a day before being crowned No. 1 in Men’s professional tennis, Rafael Nadal stamped his authority at the Beijing Olympics by clinching the gold beating Fernando Gonzales of Chile in what was a flawless performance by the Spaniard.

Nadal seeded 2 at the Beijing Olympics overcame the challenge of Gonzales by beating him in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 and 6-3. He had a stiff opponent in the form of Gonsales who notched up nine aces through the course of the game, but Nadals’s powerful forehands down the baseline were a treat to watch for the hundreds who had gathered to watch the finals match and Nadal didn’t disappoint any of them. It had been a great year for Nadal after he had begun at auspicious note by winning his favourite French Open beating Roger Federer in the final. But the shot in the arm came from the Wimbledon victory when Nadal went on to beat his swiss rival in a humdinger of a match stretching into 5 sets and two days. This was the first Wimbledon triumph for Nadal after having lost the last two consecutive finals in London to Roger Federer.

For more than two years, Nadal had been ranked two and was in hot pursuit of the Swiss prodigy. But this year had been a special one for Nadal as he won two major Grand slams on clay as well as grass. The Beijing triumph will surely sky rocket the confidence of the Spaniard for the Olympics comes only once every four years. And it is a special moment to be winning gold for your country. A feeling that transcends all other Grand Slam wins. The Olympics would also turn out to be a confidence booster for the Spaniard as he sets out to play the US Open starting in a few days time after the Beijing Olympics.

Tennis lovers who were waiting to see their dream Olympic final of Nadal vs Federer had their hopes dashed once Federer was knocked out of the tournament at the hands of James Blake of the United States of America. Federer had lost out on the number 1 ranking and this seems to have psychologically affected his performance at Beijing Though the swiss made up for it by winning the doubles gold at the Beijing Olympics.

As Rafael Nadal is set to take up the Number ranking in tennis after being second for a record time, this will be the dawn of a new chapter in tennis. The Federer Nadal rivalry is something that all tennis lovers have cherished over the years but it waits to be see whether Federer has it in him to bounce back at the US open this year. For now this has entirely been Nadals year as he has gone from strength to strength and his Olympics Gold medal win will surely set the ball rolling for the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the World.

Rajasthan Royals- the IPL Winners!

It is said, the winner takes all. In a closely fought encounter at the DY Patil stadium in Mumbai, Rajasthan Royals beat the Chennai Super kings in a humdinger of a match to win the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League by three wickets..

IT WAS touted as the clash of the titans. The invincible Rajasthan Royals up against the resurgent Chennai Super Kings. Even the pundits were refusing to take a stand, as this was expected to be a very close encounter.

Both the semifinals at the Wankhede Stadium had been tame one-sided wins with both the teams registering comprehensive wins over their counterparts. But the 55,000 plus spectators seated at the DY Patil stadium could not have asked for a better finish to what has been the most explosive series ever to have hit Indian television. All the critics who had earlier questioned the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the outset are now running for cover because such is the popularity of this league that it has every one hooked on to it. And now that it is over for this year, there would still be people salivating for more.

The glittering closing ceremony with the host of Bollywood starlets, German acrobats and a sizzling display of fire works were a treat to the eye. But the action was still to begin with Dhoni’s boys coming out to bat against a hostile bowling attack of Rajasthan Royals led by Sohail Tanveer who had been the highest wicket taker of the tournament. The Chennai openers set the ball rolling and were off to a sedate start. Suresh Raina came in and hit some lusty blows, which included three huge towering sixes.

The Chennai Super kings were restricted to a total of 163 in their quote of 20 overs. Not a match winning score but definitely a competing one! The Rajasthan Royals were not off to a very good start, as they lost the first wicket of Patel early. It was left to the find of the tournament Yousuf Pathan to come to their rescue as he has done time and time again for his team in this series. His 50 was the turning point of the match as he led his team to within a few runs from the target. At the end it was Shane Warne and Sohail Tanveer who had a cool head on their shoulders and took the Rajasthan Royals home but not without its share of drama. The winning runs were scored of the final delivery of the innings.

This is what dreams are made of. Here is a team, which spent barely anything on the auctions who retained Shane Warne as captain and coach, it was sure that this team would find it next to impossible to qualify for the semis. But qualify they did not through any back door entry but by topping the group and carrying on the good work in the finals as well. And on the other hand some of the big names like Royal Challengers and the Deccan charges, both failed o create an impact in this edition as well.

The IPL has been a phenomenal success. With all the money pouring in, this league has created a storm. Rajasthan Royals emerged as the winners of this edition. It is a day when Warne needs to be applauded for his incessant work and charming personality. The Indian Premier League has arrived and is here to stay. The transfer window in February will be a vital important aspect of the IPL.  Here’s applauding Lalit Modi and the rest of the gang behind this colossal event and hoping the next edition of the IPL will be bigger and better.

Jayasuriya blast hits Chennai

It was a day when a packed Wankhede Stadium had gathered to watch their favourite son make his IPL debut. But in the bargain they got more than they had wished for. Sanath Jayasuriya, the most underperformed player of the tournament went berserk making an otherwise hostile Chennai attack look mediocre.

 

It could not have been scripted better. Tendulkar made his debut in the IPL, with his team Mumbai Indians having won three matches consecutively. But in order to make it to the Semis, they had to keep the momentum going. After restricting the Chennai Super Kings to a modest total of 157 due to some disciplined bowling up front by Pollock and Nehra but since then the night belonged to Jayasuriya.

 

He had been getting starts in the tournament but had barely converted them. This was the day when Jayasuriya had been waiting for to prove his worth to the team. Till the match against Chennai, he had been opening with different partners and the opening partnership never used to go past a few years. Opening with Sachin probably gave him the confidence to go berserk. The first six overs yielded 78 and by then the Chennai Super Kings knew that something had hit them hard. His flicks over Square Leg for six, his powerful cover drives and bottom hand jabs on the on side were a delight to watch.

 

Though on the other hand Sachin did not really make his dream debut but was more than happy to let Jayasuriya take the strike and demolish the opposition. Eleven sixes in an innings, second in the IPL only to Brendon Mecculum’s 13 in the first match against the Royal Challengers. The sheer arrogance with which he hit all the Chennai Super Kings bowlers all around the park was astonishing to see. In the belligerent mood that he was in, he did not even spare his previous team mate Muralitharan as he attempted twice to reverse sweep the Sri Lankan off spinner. If there is one player who can single handedly take the match away from the opposition with his explosive batting, it is Sanath Jayasuriya. And his team were aware that it would need just one innings to get him abck in form which he did in style.

 

The second fastest hundred of the tournament after Adam Gilchrist who had gone on a rampage against the Mumbai Indians a few matches back. But with Jayasuriya’s current performance the Mumbai Indians can be happy that their most explosive batsman is back in form and these are not good signs for the other teams. Jayasuriya’s knock was the first good score from a team who had till now struggled in the tournament.

 

But this innings would do a world of confidence to them as they would now make their move to try and reach the Semi Finals. For the thousands that had gathered to see Sachin bat, it would have been a dream come true to watch this innings of Jayasuriya. Mumbai Indians would also feel confident now as their batting looks more or less to be settled though the departure of Bravo will hurt them. Their next tie against the Kolkatta Knight Riders would be a vital one, as both these teams are fighting for a birth in the Semi Finals. It will be great to see King Khan back in Mumbai cheering his team at the sidelines. But the resurgent Mumbai Indians would be up for the challenge.

Arsenal Take Lead

   It was a day of cheering the rivals, as the English Premiership title race continued  on Saturday. Arsenal faced off against Manchester City in the City of Manchester Stadium in an early kick off, whereas Manchester United travelled to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham Hotspur. It would have come as no surprise if supporters from both Arsenal and Man U were rooting for their local rivals in their respective matches.

 

   Emmanuel Adebayor continued his rich vein of form in the league, as he score twice in an emphatic 3-0 away win for the Gunners. Eduardo scored a stunning goal in between the Adebayor goals. Manchester City never looked like troubling the visitors, and Sven Goran Eriksson had very little positives to pick up from a game in which his side was clearly the second best.

 

   The double strike took Adebayor’s goal tally of the season to 21. After a thoroughly professional display in which Arsenal displayed their trademark style of football, full of deft passes and pace, all Arsene Wenger had to do was wait and watch the Manchester United match.

 

   Before the match, United had dominated over the spurs for six years.  The red devils had scored goals in abundance against the north London club; nine in the last season. Just last Sunday, they won 3-1 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round match. But the Spurs would have nothing of history, and decided that they would more than just make up the numbers.

 

   Throughout the entire game, it was clear, and surprising, that the home team looked the better of the two. Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring in the 20th minute, albeit a little luckily, but there was no denying the fact that the Spurs deserved the lead. United never really came close to scoring , despite a spirited second half performance. Tottenham, in the meantime, caused loads of concern with the pace of Aaron Lennon and Steed Malbranque, coupled with the clinical touches of Berbatov and Tom Huddlestone.

 

   Sir Alex Ferguson grew more and more desperate as time wore on, and made several tactical changes; one involving playing Rooney as a winger. But at the end of 90 minutes, the scoreline still read 1-0. It was only in the 93rd minute that Carlos Tevez grabbed an equalizer, and with it, a solitary point for United. But the draw meant that United slipped to second spot in the standings.

 

   So, it now seems that the Spurs have done a huge favour to the Gunners, something the Blues could not replicate for the Red Devils. With a two point advantage, Arsenal will be hoping that their winning streak continues till the end of the season. Man U however, will have other plans, and they have enough quality to bounce back emphatically from defeat. The title race is on between two Champion teams, and both know that a draw at this stage is as good as defeat. Who will eventually be crowned champions? Time will tell. Sit back and enjoy the action.

Melbourne Massacre: Reality Check for T20 Champs

The Twenty Twenty champions had arrived at MCG with a lot of promise. The record 84,000 plus crowd was anticipating a humdinger of a Match, but the Aussies once again showed that when it comes to the big stage, they almost always come out trumps.

It is said, Cricket is a great Leveler. Continue reading

Sterner Tests Await MSD

     Australia thrashed India by 9 wickets in the one-off T20 in Melbourne, and the harsher of the critics will have already started baying. But critic or not, that match has surely taught everyone one thing: that there is a very fine line between bravado and foolishness. Just before the game, in a press conference, M S Dhoni has said that his players would be treating it as a practice match. Looking at the result, it seems a lot more practice is in store for the entire team. Continue reading

Harbhajan Exonerated, Aussie incensed

Australia incensed by Harbhajan reprieve. This article appeared in Cricinfo.

Harbhajan Singh’s exoneration for his alleged “monkey” comment towards Andrew Symonds has been hailed as a victory for justice in India, but the decision has incensed Australia’s cricketers, who believe their board has caved in to overwhelming pressure from the game’s financial superpower. Continue reading

The Emerging Giant and the Giant Killer

Nobody with his head in the right place might have predicted the two finalists in the Australian Open to be Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. In fact, it seemed impossible that Roger Federer’s winning streak would have ended ; and that too in a semi final. But things don’t always go according to the script. Continue reading