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Glenn McGrath apologises after facing outrage over African hunting pictures

Former Australia cricketer Glenn McGrath apologised on Saturday for his involvement in a hunting safari in Zimbabwe, the pictures of which surfaced on the internet and caused a massive wave of shock and outrage, especially among the social media users.

According to a report on The Sydney Morning Herald, the photos from McGrath’s hunting trip were available on the website of Chipitani Safaris, but were apparently removed soon after. The pictures showed McGrath posing with several dead animals, including an elephant, with a rifle in hand,

The pacer, who retired from international cricket after the #2007WorldCup, posted an apology on his Twitter account after facing the wave of criticism. “In 2008 I participated in a hunting safari in Zimbabwe that was licensed and legal but in hindsight highly inappropriate. It was an extremely difficult time in my life and looking back I deeply regret being involved,” the read the apology tweet byMcGrath.

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Can R Ashwin lead India to elusive World Cup win over South Africa?

S Venkataraghavan had a very interesting World Cup career. Six matches, all of them as captain, one victory, in the 1975 and 1979 editions combined. Bowled his full quota of 12 overs in each of those matches. 72 overs, 432 deliveries, 217 runs conceded, no wickets taken. Economy 3.01.

How is this interesting, you might ask? Venkat had multiple maidens in two of those six bowls four, actually, in the 10-wicket win over East Africa in Leeds in 1975, and a further three in the nine-wicket loss to West Indies in Birmingham four years on.

Relevance? Until last Sunday (February 15), Venkat had been the last Indian spinner to bowl three maiden overs in a World Cup innings. Until R Ashwin joined his fellow engineering graduate in that club not an elite club, not an exclusive club, but a unique club nevertheless.

It is perhaps in the fitness of things that Ashwin was to become the first spinner to emulate Venkat’s feat. Apart from the fact that both of them are engineers and both hail from Chennai, they share various other traits a sharp cricket brain, very good catching hands, and a tendency to not suffer fools gladly, slightly better concealed by Ashwin than his illustrious predecessor who is perhaps the least celebrated member of the famed spin quartet.
Three maiden overs at the top of the innings, against a side chasing 301 for victory, is commendable even in isolation. That it came against Pakistan, easily one of the better sides when it comes to playing the turning ball, made Ashwin’s exploits even more impressive.

Most eye-catching, though, was the manner in which Ashwin constructed his overs. He was brisk between balls in walking back to his run-up and was ready to trot on the moment the batsman went into his stance, but he never appeared hurried or in a rush. He was accurate, obviously, but he wasn’t merely firing darts. There was guile in terms of drift and loop and dip; there was reasonable turn too as both Ahmed Shehzad and Haris Sohail, the left-hand batsmen, found themselves tied up in knots.

Significantly, Ashwin operated from over the wicket to both the right-handed Shehzad and left-handed Sohail, at least at the start. In times gone by, one of the features of Ashwins bowling, whether through instructions or on his own, has been to slip to bowling from around the stumps for a majority, if not all, of his overs in One-Day International cricket.

On dry tracks that assist spinners with prodigious turn, it is a tactic that makes perfect sense the angle facilitates drift away from the right-hand batsman, the turn on pitching means the batsman has to play because he doesn’t know how much the ball is going to turn from there, and the chances of a leg before offering or not offering a stroke become magnified.

On better batting surfaces, it is a bit of a negative ploy, especially when the ball is bowled into the pads with six men patrolling the legside. It is perhaps one of the offshoots of the fielding restrictions that sometimes drive captains to bottle up one side of the park, but it doesn’t make for pretty viewing, especially when the practitioner is someone as skillful and versatile as Ashwin is.

The strip at Adelaide Oval was a little dry, but it wasnt a spinners paradise by any stretch of the imagination. Ashwin, used only once in the triangular series as India tried to cram game time into Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, relished the challenge of not just bowling at Pakistans nimble-footed batsmen, but also the prospect of translating work put in in the nets into tangible results in an actual match scenario.

In Bangladesh in the World T20 last year, Ashwin was the most impressive and potent of an Indian spin combine that included Jadeja and Amit Mishra. Tracks in Mirpur, however, encouraged the slower bowlers in terms of purchase. Here in Australia, at most grounds, the spinner has to rely more on his craft than help from the pitches there will be bounce, of course, which a tall spinner like Ashwin can exploit.

Ashwin had shown during the Test series that it was a mistake to leave him out of the Adelaide game when India strangely plumped for greenhorn Karn Sharmas legspin. He carried those learnings into the Pakistan game, applying such relentless pressure in his first two spells that the batsmen were forced to look elsewhere for scoring options.

It isnt as if Ashwin has come up with any dream, magical, mysterious deliveries. He used the carrom ball sparingly, didnt try anything fancy and stuck to his guns, putting his emphasis on hard work and on working on angles of delivery by using the width of the crease at the nets to excellent use. Shehzad danced and threatened, Haris only slightly less so, but Ashwin wasnt thrown off his disciplines. The ball that accounted for Haris was one that Venkat, and Erapalli Prasanna, would have been proud of around the stumps, indeterminate length triggering uncertainty in the batsmans mind, enough turn to catch the outside edge of a tentative poke, a dolly to slip. Classic offspinner to left-hand batsman stuff.
It was, however, to be the only success Ashwin tasted that night. His returns of 8-3-41-1 doesn’t sound all that extraordinary, but 15 of those runs came in one over when, running out of partners, Misbah-ul-Haq opened his powerful shoulders and let’em rip.

That said, Ashwin would be mindful of the need for wickets. His best bowling in an ODI is 3 for 24, and while an economy of 4.91 is very, very good in modern ODI cricket and a strike rate of 39.9 deliveries that has fetched him 121 sticks from 89 games isn’t to be scoffed at, Ashwin would like a five-for. At least a four-for, to start with. For which he needs to be given the freedom to bowl attackingly with an eye on wickets, not defensively with both eyes on the rate of scoring.

Ashwin is the most experienced of the specialists in a relatively new bowling group. He was somewhat fortunate that the pacers had begun well against Pakistan. Going forward, starting with South Africa next Sunday, that luxury may not always be his. And that’s when he will have to start bowling not just for himself, but for the others as well. As the only surviving bowler from the 2011 World Cup-winning team, Ashwin must put his experience of being in this position to good use. As, you imagine, he will.

India vs Pakistan: Bowling, not batting, may decide the winner

The India-Pakistan rivalry goes way beyond the boundaries of the cricket field. Pool B of the World Cup gets under way with a match at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday that many players and supporters of both countries consider just as important as the final.

Building up to the cricket’s version of a gladiatorial streetfight, CNN-IBN and Pakistan’s PTV hosted a simulcast in the second installment of a series of three shows called Love of Cricket, where the panel of experts on both sides shared some memorable moments from the past while analysing the two teams that will face off in Adelaide on February 15.

On the Indian side, it was former India captain Kris Srikkanth, stumper Kiran More and also former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas, who is dubbed the Asian Bradman. While Saqlain Mushtaq, Mohsin Khan, South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes and PJ Mir were in the PTV studios on the other side of the border.

While replying to a question on the Indo-Pak rivalry, Rhodes described it as a World Cup within the World Cup. “The India-Pakistan rivalry is never going to go away. It will be very interesting to see which team does well,” Rhodes said.

Sharing a lot of light moments with his Pakistani friends on the other side, Srikkanth said India doesn’t have the strength in bowling but have strong batting.

Live – India vs Australia, 3rd Test, Day 5: Indian top order collapses

Shaun Marsh was run out for 99 attempting a desperate single before Australia declared on 318 for nine to bring lunch early and set India 384 to win the third test in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Marsh had patiently grafted for more than four and a half hours through the new ball on day four and then rain delays in the final morning, and had been given every chance to post his third test century and first on home soil.

But pinned down on the brink of a century for five balls by paceman Umesh Yadav, he had a moment of madness, rushing through for a single after poking a shot in close, which Virat Kohli swooped on and flung down the stumps from a few metres away.

That ended a 215-ball knock which had guided Australia to safety late on day four, and Marsh trudged off with head bowed.

Josh Hazlewood joined Nathan Lyon out in the middle for a few balls but coach Darren Lehmann finally ran out of patience and waved his team in to bring an early lunch.

Australia have 70 overs to bowl India out and the tourists will have to set a record to chase down the target.

The highest successful run-chase at the MCG was in 1928-29 when England made 332 for victory but with Australia 2-0 up in the series and needing only draw to seal it, the tourists were in no hurry to declare.

Rain delays added another variable, with the session suspended for nearly an hour due to two separate showers, the first after just three balls and the second a little over an hour before lunch.

Marsh and number nine Ryan Harris resumed on 261-7, and appeared more keen to bat for time than keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Harris was eventually out for 21 off 68 balls, caught behind by India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off the bowling of Mohammed Shami.

Ravichandran Ashwin dropped a caught-and-bowled chance off Marsh and the 31-year-old duly hit a six over his head, a slog sweep for four and another two to wide long on to march to 98.

But nerves got the better of him of 99, souring an otherwise important knock for the hosts.

WWE Diva Stacy Kiebler has become a new mom.

The wrestler-turned- TV personality, 34, gave birth to baby girl Ava Grace on Wednesday as her Clooney dating predecessor Elisabetta Canalis was preparing to confirm reports of her engagement.


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Little Ava is Keibler’s first child with husband Jared Pobre.

She announced the happy news on her website on Friday, writing, “Jared and I have been blessed with the new love of our lives. Ava Grace was born at home on Wednesday.

2014 FINA Women’s Water Polo Player Of The Year Maggie Steffens

2014 FINA Women’s Water Polo Player Of The Year Maggie Steffens 

For the second time in three years USA Women’s Senior National Team athlete Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/Diablo) has been named the FINA Women’s Water Polo Athlete of the Year. The honour for Steffens comes on the heels of another banner year for the USA Women’s National Team that saw gold medals at the FINA World League Super Final, Kirishi Cup, and FINA World Cup. Steffens, previously honoured for her efforts in 2012 en route to an Olympic Gold Medal, helped the United States turn in one of their most dominant years in recent history in 2014 with the squad losing just once in major tournament play.

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Australia will try to take ten wickets on Day 5, says David Warner

Adelaide Test centurion David Warner said that the pitch is not placid anymore and his team is ‘determined’ to take all 10 Indian wickets on the final day of first cricket Test on Saturday.

Warner scored 102 runs on the fourth day as the hosts took a 363-run lead after bowling India out for 444 in their first innings. Australia declared their first innings at 517 for seven.

 

“At the moment it’s hard to score when the ball gets older. But there is a nice rough area for Nathan Lyon to exploit tomorrow.We saw that in first innings he pretty much hit it with every delivery. Tomorrow, we will try to take wickets with the new ball and once it gets older, we will try and use the conditions to reverse the ball” – David Warner is confident of Australia bundling out India on Day5.

 

“We have seen how much he has evolved in the last couple years. Now he has a fiver in first innings of a home Test. There is no reason why he can’t come out tomorrow with his tail up and help us take 10 wickets. The pitch has changed and there are nearly 98 overs, there will be at least 10 chances for us to do that. When we went out to bat, we were only ahead by 70-odd runs and we had 70-80 overs remaining in the day” said Warner about Nathan Lyon, who picked up a five-wicket haul.

“We batted normally first to set up the game and later Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh came and hit the ball out of the park,” added Warner.

Warner replicated his team-mate Phillip Hughes in scoring two hundreds in the same Test. The late batsman achieved that feat against South Africa in South Africa in March 2009.

“Yeah definitely, it was in the back of my mind as well.I have been seeing highlights of his back-to-back hundreds over the last week or so. Probably that gave me some luck out there today. It was a memorable thing to do. Phil had played fantastic knocks in South Africa,” said Warner of late team-mate Phil Hughes.