Magnificient Mahi at Chepauk, India pile on lead

Dhoni hit his highest test score during his innings
Dhoni hit his highest test score during his innings

Chennai, 24 February – Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s (MSD) captaincy might have been under scrutiny, but over the past year his batting always remained nothing short of magnificient. Carrying an average of over 85 in One Day Internationals in the last calender year, Dhoni needed to silence his critics over his composure as an able Test batsman. At one time, the selectors had considered dropping him for Bengal stumper Wriddhiman Saha who had scored heavily in the Ranji season.

Captain Dhoni and Vice Captain Kohli during their partnership
Captain Dhoni and Vice Captain Kohli during their partnership

MSD put an end to that debate here on Sunday, and how. He walked in with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar just departed after scoring an elegant 81, with an out-of-form Virat Kohli at the crease. The Chepauk pitch had few demons, although James Pattinson got the ball to reverse and Nathan Lyon had just begun to turn some sharp ones. Dhoni took a few balls to settle and within half an hour, he was off. The 45 minutes post lunch, the duo of captain and vice-captain plundered the Aussie bowling making it look more of a limited over games. Their partnership yielded 128 runs in quick time as India comfortably crossed the 300-run mark.

Virat Kohil fell for 107 runs but Dhoni continued his attack and reached a double century towards the end of the day’s play,  Bhuvneshkwar Kumar proving an able partner to Dhoni. The duo added an unbeaten stand 109 runs. India closed the third day at 515 for 8, 135 runs ahead of the opposition.

With the 200, MSD joins a list of elite batsman who have managed to go past 200 runs in a day’s play of a test match.

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Oscar Pistorius set free, gets bail on $113,000

Oscar Pistorius adheres to court’s decision granting him bail

‘Blade Runner’, Oscar Pistorius accused of shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentines Day was granted bail on 22nd Feburary, 2013. The ruling that came on Friday was announced by Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair after four days of rigorous arguments. The bail has been set at 1 million rand ($113,00) in cash and has been asked to turn in any other guns that he owns. Nail also announced that Pistorius cannot leave the district of Pretoria , South Africa as he is on probation.

 

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Captain Clarke passes spin test, India fail to capitalize

Michael Clarke, Captain of Australia celebrates his century.
Michael Clarke, Captain of Australia celebrates his century.

CHENNAI, 22 FEB: Captain Michael Clarke led from the front with a sparkling unbeaten century under pressure as Australia recovered from a precarious position to post a respectable 316 for seven on the opening day of the first cricket Test against India here today.

Clarke brought up his 23rd Test century off the second last ball of the day hitting left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja towards long-off to remain unbeaten on 103 on a day whih saw an engrossing battle between the bat and the ball.

Clarke negated all the good work done by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (6/88) who took all but one among seven wickets that fell on the day at the Chepauk.

Clarke was well-complemented by debutant Moises Henriques (68) as the pair added 147 runs for the sixth wicket after Ashwin’s terrific post-lunch spell saw the visitors being reduced to 153 for five.

The Tamil Nadu offie finally broke the partnership by dismissing the impressive Henriques, trapping him leg-before much to the relief of his teammates.

India will look to capitalize by dismissing the Australians early tomorrow and bat out the rest of the day on a turning Chepauk pitch.

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Tough loss kept Quest winner motivated

Quest winner Allen Moore hugs lead dogs at finish line in Fairbanks
Allen Moore hugs lead dogs Quito, left, and Olivia after winning the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on Monday morning, Feb. 11, on the Chena River in Fairbanks. Moore finished one-hour, 16-minutes ahead of second place finisher Hugh Neff of Tok. Sam Harrel photo/ Fairbanks Daily-News-Miner

Last year’s Quest finish brought 26-second heartbreak.

This time Allen Moore sank to his knees, hugging his lead dogs, as  champion of the world’s toughest sled dog race.

In this, his third Quest,  Moore, 55-year-old contractor from Two Rivers, Alaska, more than made up for last year’s close loss to Hugh Neff. With 11 dogs pulling his sled, he mushed out of the darkness into the lights blazing at the finish chute more than an hour ahead of the man who edged him out by less than a minute last year.

“You know it was a pretty good motivator,” Moore told KUAC radio reporter Emily Schwing. “You can stay motivated after losing by 26 seconds.  That’s the good thing about it.” Continue reading Tough loss kept Quest winner motivated

Rivals join staging rescue on Quest’s Eagle Summit

Quest mushers Brent Sass and Jake Berkowitz team up crossing Eagle Summit
Quest veteran Brent Sass plays lead dog helping rival musher Jake Berkowitz get his stalled dog team over Eagle summit. Sam Harrel photo/ Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

When dogs in the team ahead quit while climbing the Quest’s most punishing summit, race veteran Brent Sass once again put sportsmanship aside, lending a hand to another musher facing disaster.

The News-Miner has a fine story today recounting this most recent of many rescues operations recorded over the years atop Eagle Summit, the treacherous, windy mountain passage that often decides the outcome in the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest International sled dog race.

The action atop played out as Allen Moore and defending champion Hugh Neff swapped leads down the final stretch. Monday afternoon satellite trackers, (note this page takes time to load)  showed More about 3 kilometers ahead, with perhaps 90 yet to go. This final leg is fast and furious, traveling winding frozen rivers to the Quest’s finish line in Fairbanks.

Load the Quest's "Live Tracking" page for a real time glimpse of dog teams competing in the 30-year-old wilderness classic.
Load the Quest’s “Live Tracking” page for a real time glimpse of dog teams competing in the 30-year-old wilderness classic.

Baring disaster, Sass and the 17 other teams still on the trail are no threat to catch the two frontrunners.

Sass, these days regarded as a serious contender in any dog race, landed in similar trouble on the same Quest summit crossing during his rookie run in 2006. Since then he’s become the master of training leaders for any punch the mountain delivers. Read Mushing Magazine’s interview with Randy Chappel, a fellow rookie trapped with Sass the year race officials summoned military helicopters to rescue missing dogs and drivers.

 

Relentless Ryan

Evergreen: Ryan Giggs continues to excel, even at the age of 39.
Evergreen: Ryan Giggs continues to excel, even at the age of 39.

Professional footballers don’t generally have very long careers. Of the lot, midfielders tend to have the shortest footballing lifespans. As a midfielder, a player has to run for most of the 90 minutes, ensuring his team can control the pace of the game. In these unforgiving conditions, to play for even 6 years at the highest level is a tremendous achievement. However, playing at this level for the best part of two decades certifies you as a footballing phenomenon. Enter Ryan Giggs.

The Welsh wizard has been blazing up and down the Manchester United wing since the early 90’s, and despite nearing 40 years of age, he is showing no signs of slowing down. On Sunday, against Everton, he set a unique record when he opened the scoring. He is now the only player to have scored in every single league season since the format of the English football league was changed in 1992.

To play for arguably the biggest club in the world for so long is nothing short of remarkable. But it is Giggs’ discipline and adaptability, more than anything else, that have kept him going this long. As he has aged, he has modified his game to suit him and the team. Rather than being played only on the wing, he has been deployed in a variety of positions over the last 5 years, including central midfield and as a striker. The blistering pace has been tempered and combined with an intelligence and footballing guile that only experience can bring.

While Giggs is no longer the first name on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team sheet (particularly for the big games), his presence in the team is invaluable. He is still capable of moments of pure magic, such as the beautiful long pass to set up Robin Van Persie’s equaliser against West Ham in the FA Cup. He may not have the pace that used to give defenders “twisted blood”, or the trickery that helped him score THAT goal against Arsenal back in 99, but his understanding of the game has helped him sustain an incredibly high standard, where so many of peers have failed to do so.

With more than 900 appearances under his belt, Giggs is slowly showing signs that he may be nearing the twilight of his illustrious career. But until he finally feels the need to hang up his boots, you can guarantee that he will continue to terrorise defenders and he will tear them apart again.

United pull further clear as City slip up

In a frantic weekend of English league football, Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League table to 12 points after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Everton on Sunday. The day before, Manchester City handed United the advantage after they lost 3-1 away to Southampton. At the foot of the table, Aston Villa climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at home against West Ham United, and Queens Park Rangers were hammered 4-1 by Swansea.

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Ryan Giggs scored United’s opener, making him the only player to have scored in every Premier League season.

Match Reports –

Man United vs Everton (2-0) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21311607

Southampton vs Man City (3-1) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21311313

Aston Villa vs West Ham (2-1) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21311649

Swansea vs QPR (4-1) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21311593