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Over 70,000 run in Auckland’s Round the Bays

New Zealand’s largest fun run marking the 40th anniversary attracted an estimated 70,000 walkers, runners and wheelchair athletes; the Ports of Auckland Round the Bays attracted a large crowd to complete the 8.4km journey from Quay Street to St Heliers Bay at varying paces.

First to cross the finish line in 28 minutes and 4 seconds was Jono Jackson from Auckland City Athletics Club.

The winner took it easy until the last kilometre when he picked up the pace, and puts his win down to competition within his Club.

“I’ve come second for the last two years so I really wanted to win, we have this superstar guy in the Club but I just got him in the end,” says Jono.

Second across was Tony Payne who completed the distance in 28 minutes and 16 seconds.

The first woman across the finish line, Lisa Robertson, was nearly five minutes ahead of her closest rival, clocking in at 29 minutes and 19 seconds, followed by Nikki Hill at 34 minutes and 14 seconds.

Women’s winner Lisa, a member of Pakuranga Athletics Club, was a first-timer at Ports of Auckland Round the Bays.

“I felt like I was going to win it right from the start,” says Lisa.

Ports of Auckland Round the Bays was also a special occasion for young Sahara Adams. The 13 year old Make-A-Wish recipient was the official race starter, setting the 70,000 strong crowd on its way at 9.30am.

“It was so cool! It was a bit freaky with all those people, but I really enjoyed it,” says Sahara.

Sahara, who is undergoing leukaemia treatment, recently met her idol Taylor Swift thanks to Make-A-Wish New Zealand.

Proceeds from the 42,000 participants who officially registered for today’s event will go to Make-A-Wish New Zealand, Child Cancer Foundation, Garden to Table Trust, Fairfax First Books and Kidz First Childrens Hospital.

After the event, crowds headed to over 600 barbecue sites at Madills Farm and Glover Park for food, refreshments and entertainment.

Event spokesperson, Fairfax Media Group Sales and Marketing Manager Sandra King, says over 80% of entrants were part of a team, making Ports of Auckland Round the Bays a big day out for many businesses.

“Teams ranged from four to 1200, with some brilliant t-shirt slogans and costumes. For Fairfax’s team of over 270, it was a lot of fun,” says King.

Weather conditions were fine for the race duration, with cloud cover and slight drizzle later in the morning helping to cool off tired runners.

Ports of Auckland Round the Bays was established by the Auckland Joggers Club in 1972 with the inaugural event attracting 1200.


Olympics: Australia wins bid over India

The inaugural Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games for athletes with an intellectual disability will be held in Australia in December 2013. Newcastle has secured the winning bid against strong competition from cities in India and Malaysia.

Newcastle to welcome 1,700 athletes on a journey to achieve their personal best

In less than 22 months, Australia will welcome more than 1,700 Special Olympics athletes, 600 coaches, 4,000 volunteers, and approximately 200,000 spectators from 25 nations across the Asia Pacific region, who will compete in a range of Olympic-style sports.

“The Special Olympics movement is very close to my heart,” says Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia at Sydney Opera House, announcing the decision by the Special Olympics International board of directors.

“I am very proud to be Patron of this national charity and delighted that Australia will host the Asia-Pacific Games.

“I hope the Games will build a platform of awareness and support for people with an intellectual disability and I urge all Australians to support athletes along their journey to the Games and beyond,” Bryce says.

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics is the largest grassroots sport and humanitarian organisation in the world, having grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million in over 185 countries in all regions of the world.

Gill Stapleton, CEO, Special Olympics Australia says the win is a great opportunity for Special Olympics athletes to share their successes and talents with members of the broader community. “A Games of such magnitude is just reward for the athletes and volunteers who give their best at weekly sports training. “This is a great opportunity for them to share their talents with the wider community. I can’t wait to see athletes from across Asia Pacific doing their best and experiencing the thrill of competition.

The Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games will provide a unique opportunity to support local athletes from 25 countries including Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Japan and New Zealand to access sport, a supportive community, and the opportunity to achieve their personal best.

Bollywood Cricket News Sport

Kolaveri maker releases Sachin song

South Indian actor-turned-singer Dhanush has released his latest song – The Sachin Song, in a tribute to India’s most adored cricket superstar – Sachin Tendulkar.

Announcing the release of the song on Twitter, the Kolaveri-fame singer said: “THE SACHIN song officially out 4am today. let’s sing along-u. A humble attempt from a simple fan.”

Dhanush’s earlier song, Why This Kolaveri Di, became an overnight sensation worldwide, when it was launched on YouTube last month. The soundtrack of the yet-to-be-released Tamil film 3 was written and sung by Dhanush. The 29-year old actor is son-in-law of South Indian superstar Rajnikanth.

The latest anthem for the iconic cricketer was shot in Hyderabad and features actress Anushka.

The actor has not yet met Sachin Tendulkar. Why is Sachin revered in India?

News Sport

42000 Aucklanders to run for a cause

On the morning of Sunday 18 March over 42,000 runners will line up at Auckland’s Quay Street, ready to run 8.4km distance to St Heliers Bay, as part of the Ports of Auckland Round The Bays Race.

Entries are flooding in, says says the event spokesperson Sandra King. “We expect to surpass the 70,000 participant record this year.”

In its 40th year, Ports of Auckland Round the Bays will donate over $100,000 to children’s charities with proceeds from this year’s event.

Projects will include a new play area for Kidz First Children’s Hospital, 500 electric thermometers for the Child Cancer Foundation, plus donations to Make a Wish Foundation, Garden to Table Trust and Fairfax First Books.

In the past 10 years alone, entrants in Ports of Auckland Round the Bays, which is owned by Fairfax Media and sponsored by Sunday Star-Times, have contributed over $1.2 million to charities.

Corporates are again making Round the Bays one of their biggest staff events of the year, with companies such as ASB, Mainfreight, Barfoot & Thompson and Fletcher Construction entering big teams.

ASB Executive General Manager Culture and Community, Linley Wood, says Ports of Auckland Round the Bays is an important date on the bank’s calendar. “We’ll be fielding a team of over 1200 again this year.”

Entry fee is $15 for adults and  $10 for children (16 and under). The Race website.


Chance to shine for Indian heroes

A sport charity is inviting nominations from those actively involved in sport and community work in the Indian community.

SPROUT, an Auckland-based charity, has launched the Indian Sports & Community Awards to be held on 26 May 2012 at the Sudima Hotel near Auckland International Airport.

The inaugural awards aim to promote community development and sports in the New Zealand Indian community, says Aditee Naik, the project manager for the awards. “The awards will not only acknowledge individual talents but also honour organisations that have supported the society.

“The awards will recognise the Indian sportspeople at the grassroots level in pursuit of excellence and to honor the outstanding contributions by Indians in the community.

“The awards are an extension of what we are already doing.” SPROUT, which stands for ‘Sports, Recreation and Outdoors Trust’, recently won an award in the ‘Sports and Leisure’ category at the Infratil Community Awards 2011 in West Auckland, for its work in promoting active lifestyle. SPROUT runs physical exercise and sports classes, community garden projects, organises community runs and publishes a health magazine.

Nominations are open to people of Indian descent who are involved in community work, volunteering or have represented their chosen sport(s) at a regional, national or international level.

The qualifying period for the nominations is the year ending 31 March 2012. The closing date for the award nominations is 22 April 2012. The Global Indian magazine is a media partner. More details.

The award categories

Sportsperson of the year (male and female each) – Open to any adult who has excelled as an individual or in a team in one or more sports

Junior sportsperson of the year (male and female each) – Open to any person aged 21 and below, who has excelled as an individual or in a team in one or more sports

Community volunteer of the year – Open to any volunteer who is working passionately for the betterment of community.

Community organisation of the year – Open to any organisation that has provided substantial benefit to the Indian community

International student of the year – Open to any International student that has made a difference in the NZ community

Senior citizen of the year – Open to any person aged 60 and over who have made a positive contribution to New Zealand

Sports Supreme Award – Selected from the winners of the four sports categories

Sudima Community Supreme Award – Selected from the winners of the four community categories


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Leander: the only Indian standing tall in Australia

What were the odds that the Bryan brothers’ 23-match winning streak will be interrupted by a pair that was defeated by the American twins in a tuning event earlier in the month, that the Bryans will be defeated in two straight sets by a pair that was teaming up only for the fourth time?

The 38-year old tennis player’s victory is a stark contrast to  the Indian cricket team’s embarrassing 0-4 test series defeat to the Australians, despite its ace players in the squad.

Paes ended his seven-year wait for the career grand slam with the Australian Open men’s doubles title.

Paes partnered with 33-year old Czech Radek Stepanek to defeat the defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan  7-6 (7-1), 6-2 and win his seventh grand slam title. The winning pair is now richer by  $454,500.

Paes ruined the 33-year old Bryan brothers’ chances of emulating the 11 major titles’ record of the Australian duo – Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, also known as the Woodies.

It was only last year that the Bryan brothers had defeated Paes, and his partner Mahesh Bhupathi, in the Australian Open final.

Paes has won won three French Opens, two US Opens and a Wimbledon Open in men’s doubles, and six grand slams in mixed doubles.


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Blind Indian to compete in 243km race

Think about the level of physical endurance you would need to complete a 243km race through mountains and rivers. Now imagine running, cycling and kayaking that distance blind-folded. Now we are talking about mental endurance.

Meet 27-year old Neelusha Memon, who is almost blind and yet determined to compete with more than 800 able-bodied racers in New Zealand’s Coast to Coast Challenge in February.

The Challenge, which spans across Southern Alps from Tasman Sea to Pacific Ocean, is a benchmark by which all other multi-sport events are judged, both here in New Zealand and overseas.

Competitors cycle 140km, run 36km (including a 33km mountain stage that crosses the Southern Alps) and kayak 67km of the grade two Waimakariri River through the Grand Canyon of New Zealand, the Waimakariri Gorge.

Neelusha, or Neelu as she is mostly known, is participating in the race to create awareness about disability. She wants to change the perception that people with disabilities have limitations.

“It was people’s perception of me and perceptions of my impairments that were disabling,” she told a news agency. “They think impairments are so limiting that [people with impairments] can’t do anything.”

The things that can be achieved when people have support are huge, she writes in a blog entry. “There is no way I could dream of finishing one leg of this race without the support of other people.

“Everyone needs support if they are going to attempt something hard, and by completing this race I want to prove that something most people with full abilities would not attempt to do, can be completed by someone with impairments when I have support!”

She is supported by a team that helps her in her training and will also participate in the race with her. For Coast to Coast, she will run with Nick Crocker and Glenn Hedges for the 36km run, before joining Oliver Marshall for the cycling leg. Finally, Warwick Taylor will support her in a tandem kayak.

When she was 17, Neelu suffered from a rare autoimmune disease that sent her in coma for four months. Following the brain injury, Neelu had to work hard to regain her functions. While she recovered most of her functions, she lost about 70% of her vision, which makes her technically blind.

“These impairments definitely make things harder for me, but they do not stop me.” She has competed in the para-cycling world-champs on a tandem cycle, climbed Mount Aspiring, and enjoys most sports. She has also completed her masters degree in disability policy at the University of Canterbury and she currently works as team leader for CCS Disability Action Group.

However, Coast to Coast will test not only her physical endurance but also her mental strength. “This will be the hardest challenge yet as both my sight and balance will be paramount in getting over the mountain run, and will make things slower.

“With a cut off time of eight hours it will be a massive push for me to even finish the stage; not to mention the kayak stage as well as the cycling stage!

She will rely on limitless support from her team. “I have an awesome crew of people working with me who are keen to get me through this race. One to guide me on the run, one to kayak with me in a two person kayak, and one to cycle with me on a tandem.  These three fantastic people, not to mention the other people who have come on board to help me train for the race, will all get me through this race.”

Support Neelu’s cause: Limitless With Support

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$1m NZ pavilion may go for London Olympics

Maori Waka at Rugby World Cup 2011

A huge waka-shaped pavilion, cornerstone of the very popular Rugby World Cup event, may be seen next year in London during the 2012 Olympic Games.

New Zealand won the recently concluded Rugby World Cup.

Discussions are underway between the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Ngati Whatua o Orakei to take the 76-metre long Waka Maori to the United Kingdom.

The 76-metre long waka has been on the Auckland waterfront since 13 October where it has seen around 400,000 visits to the Waka Maori events that included performances in the waka, a Maori rugby exhibition and carving, weaving, ta moko and contemporary Maori arts displays at the artisans village.

Maori Waka at Rugby World Cup 2011

Maori Waka at Rugby World Cup 2011

The waka cost $900,000 to build and was funded by Te Puni Kokori, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board.

The waka has made an impact at the Rugby World Cup fanzone and it could provide a focal point for New Zealand activities in London, says New Zealand Olympic Committee Commercial and Marketing Director Terry Daly.

“We’re urging business and government to build on the momentum created around the Rugby World Cup and to look at ways the London Olympic Games can be used to promote New Zealand,” he says.

“A major Kiwi House in London is taking shape and the waka could add another dimension to the series of showcase events already planned.

“With millions of visitors set to attend the London Olympic Games, New Zealand will be ideally placed to show the world what it has to offer.”

The New Zealand Olympic Committee will announce its plans for Kiwi House in London early next year.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board chief executive Tiwana Tibble says there has been a lot of enquiry, both before the rugby tournament and during, about using the waka.

“From a Ngati Whatua perspective we are interested in opportunities where the waka can be used to show New Zealand at its best and create greater awareness of Maori culture as a positive part of life in this country.

“The waka itself is a blank canvas and it is up to people to make it come alive in whichever way they want to; he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

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Taslima denies advising Sachin against Sathya

Controversial writer Taslima Nasreen has denied a media report which claims that the noted Bangladeshi writer had “advised the cricketing world’s god, Sachin Tendulkar, not to pray for Sathya Sai Baba, who passed away on Sunday morning.”

Protesting against the media report, Taslima tweeted: “Times of India’s headline is ‘Taslima advises Sachin not to pray for Sai Baba’ It’s not TRUE. I DIDN’T GIVE HIM ANY ADVICE.

“I’m shocked to see TOI misleading people by publishing a news that’s not true. Most people don’t know what Retweet is. Doesn’t TOI know it?

“I’m protesting against TOI report. I RT people’s different comments. They’re not mine. I also RT comments that are against me.”

It seems the Times of India’s reporter Bharti Dubey failed to understand the difference between a tweet and a retweet.

Explains Taslima, in a comment that she posted on the inaccurate Times Of India article, “I have never given any advice to Sachin Tendulkar on Twitter or otherwise about Sathya Sai Baba.

“The tweets you see here attributed to me are not my tweets. TOI has quoted tweets that I retweeted as my own tweets. Anyone who is familiar with Twitter will know that retweets do not necesarily become the opinion of the person who retweets it.

“I retweet both things that I agree with and not agree with. Taslima Nasreen.”

Mis-using the power of influencing public opinion, the reporter unfortunately describes the noted writer as someone “who is known more for the controversies chasing her than her literary skills.”

Earlier, India’s cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar visited Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh to pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba who passed away on the Easter day.

Sathya Sai baba, who has millions of followers in India and worldwide, died of liver disease. He was hospitalised for two weeks for jaundice. His organs had gradually stopped responding to treatment.

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World Cup final: Wankhede pitch to help bowlers

The Wankhede Stadium wicket for the ICC World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka will be a slow turner, according to the pitch curator, Sudhir Naik. This is like most wickets in the subcontinent during this time of the year, says Naik who is a former India player.

If the pitch report is anything to go by, the Sangakkara – Mahendra Singh Dhoni battle is likely to be another cliffhanger for the 1.5 billion cricket fans watching the final live worldwide.

The final will also be a deciding factor for the future of both the captions, and many players in the teams.

Naik still expects the pitch to support batsmen and offer opportunities to score runs. He thinks that the team batting first will get the maximum benefit of the turning wicket.

“It will be an ideal one-day wicket,” Naik told news service – IANS. Naik was part of the India squad who toured England in 1974.

If Naik’s interpretation of the wicket is correct, the battle for the world cup will see a score of about 270 to 280 runs. The warring teams will do well to play an extra spinner.

“The bounce will be even with a good carry,” the 66-year old curator said. “The pacers will get something out of the wicket in the initial overs.”

While the team batting first will be able to score runs, spinners will rule the second session of the final match.

The temperatures will be very high, and Mumbai is known for high humidity. This will make it very difficult to score runs in the second half of the Tournament decider.

Khans to attend the ICC World Cup decider

In the meantime, the final between Sri Lanka and India is likely to attract who’s who of Indian business and of course, Bollywood.

The three ruling Khans of Bollywood, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and of course, Aamir Khan are attending the final battle.

During India-Pakistan face off in the second semi final, Shah Rukh Khan had said “if Team India wins no one can stop me from going to the finals at Wankhede.”

Salman Khan also said, “I will try and go for the finals.” Aamir Khan was spotted at the Mohali stadium for the India-Pakistan semi-final and is likely to be at Wankhede with his better half.

President Pratibha Patil will be there

If the prime ministers of India and Pakistan stole limelight from cricketers at the second semi-finals, the presidents of India and Sri Lanka don’t wish to be left behind.

India’s president, Pratibha Patil and her Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahinda Rajapaksa, will attend Saturday’s cricket World Cup final. While Patil will fly to Mumbai, Rajapaksa will arrive from Colombo.

Don’t get carrid away: Dhoni

India’s skipper MS Dhoni has warned his team not to get carried away by the excessive hype ahead of their World Cup final against Sri Lanka and stick to their basic job of playing “good cricket”

Heavy security for India – Sri Lanka game

Aerial and sea surveillance will guard the final match which is likely to be attended by the who’s who of India’s political and business leaders. About one thousand police will be posted at the Wankhede Stadium for Saturday.

The security arrangement is described as the biggest in Mumbai since the US president, Barack Obama’s visit last year.

The security cover is likely to be more extensive than the Mohali match where the prime ministers of India and Pakistan attended the match.


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Sachin takes India to World Cup final

India has entered the final of the ICC World Cup, thanks to a heroic knock by master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin was awarded the man of the match award.

Batting first, India put a modest target of 260 for Pakistan to chase, but Pakistan struggled to chase the total.

Pakistan had a good start but lost their opening pair, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez, before reaching 100 runs.

Indian bowling attack restricted any recovery by Pakistan batsmen, and were 2 wickets down for 103.

Sachin Tendulkar’s 85-run stint wasn’t without lifelines. The batting maestro was survived four dropped catches and two referrals.

India will play Sri Lanka in the final of the ICC World Cup in Mumbai.


India: V. Sehwag lbw b Riaz 38 (25b, 9×4), S. Tendulkar c Afridi b Ajmal 85 (115b, 11×4), G. Gambhir st. K. Akmal b Hafeez 27 (32b, 2×4), V. Kohli c U Akmal b Riaz 9 (21b), Yuvraj b Riaz 0 (1b), M.S. Dhoni lbw b Riaz 25 (42b, 2×4), Suresh Raina (not out) 36 (39b, 3×4), Harbhajan st. K. Akmal b Ajmal 12 (15b, 2×4), Zaheer c K. Akmal b Riaz 9 (10b, 1×4), A. Nehra (run out) 1 (2b), Munaf (not out) 0; Extras (lb-8, w-8, nb-2): 18; Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs): 260.


Fall of wickets: 1-48 (Sehwag), 2-116 (Gambhir), 3-141 (Kohli), 4-141 (Yuvraj), 5-187 (Tendulkar), 6-205 (Dhoni), 7-236 (Harbhajan), 8-256 (Zaheer), 9-258 (Nehra).


Pakistan bowling: Gul 8-0-69-0, Razzaq 2-0-14-0, Riaz 10-0-46-5, Ajmal 10-0-44-2, Afridi 10-0-45-0, Hafeez 10-0-34-1.


Pakistan: K. Akmal c Yuvraj b Zaheer 19 (21b, 3×4), M. Hafeez c Dhoni b Munaf 43 (59b, 7×4), A. Shafiq b Yuvraj 30 (39b, 2×4), Younis c Raina b Yuvraj 13 (32b), Misbah c Kohli b Zaheer 56 (76b, 5×4 1×6), U. Akmal b Harbhajan 29 (24b, 1×4, 2×6), A. Razzaq b Munaf 3 (9b), S. Afridi c Sehwag b Harbhajan 19 (17b, 1×4), W. Riaz c Tendulkar b Nehra 8 (14b, 1×4), U. Gul lbw b Nehra 2 (3b). S. Ajmal (not out) 1 (5b); Extras (w-8): 8; Total (in 49.5 overs): 231.


Fall of wickets: 1-44 (K. Akmal), 2-70 (Hafeez), 3-103 (Shafiq), 4-106 (Younis), 5-142 (U. Akmal), 6-150 (Razzaq), 7-184 (Afridi), 8-199 (Riaz), 9-208 (Gul).


India bowling: Zaheer 9.5-0-58-2, Nehra 10-0-33-2, Munaf 10-1-40-2, Harbhajan 10-0-43-2, Yuvraj 10-1-57-2.


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Will India-Pakistan match be affected by rain?

India-Pakistan cricket match in Mohali came under clouds with a drizle and light storm in Chandigarh just the night before the crucial ICC World Cup match.

However, the met department is predicting the weather to be clear for the match. The temperature is expected to be around 32 degrees, with clear skies and bright sun.

A cricket match between india vs pakistan is always a closely watched battle. Since this is a world cup semi-final match, the cricket fans are worried about potential mohali rain. Mohali weather today is unpredictable with a bit of a drizzle last night.

However, Chandigarh weather is normally warm in the month of March. India Pakistan semifinal is likely to experience nice weather if the met department is to be believed. Weather news from Mohali is positive so far.

Mohali match will experience warm temperature today. The climate in Mohali is a little humid. Overall, weather in India is pleasant since March is the beginning of summer in India.

Worried about the weather, Bollywood actor Rahul Bose tweeted: “Weather report from mohali from friends at stadium – clear skies, sunshine, mild temperatures. Will reach and provide an update.”

Mohali pitch report

Mohali pitch expected to help the batsmen. This should not come as a surprise, since the pitches are mostly prepared to help the host team. India has a strong batting line while Pakistan has a strong bowling team.

While most matches in this ICC World Cup have been low scoring, the Mohali pitch is batsmen’s paradise. The flat wicket are likely to help the seamers than spinners. This should be a good news for Pakistan.

Zaheer Khan is expected to be a beneficiary of this pitch in this match. Indian cricket fans are also expecting their god, Sachin Tendulkar, to complete his 100th ton. As far as Pakistan is concerned, Afridi is likely to rely on Shoaib Akhtar who has bowled well against Indians.

Fierce rivals India and Pakistan will have to deal with huge expectations from their cricket-crazy fans when they clash on Wednesday for a place in the World Cup final. Anything but a win will be a shock for either set of supporters when the neighbours, who have fought three wars since their 1947 i

Heavy security for India-Pakistan match

With the heads of the state of the nuclear-armed countries, India and Pakistan, attending the ICC world cup semi-final in Mohali in Chandigarh, the security for the cricket match is the highest ever expected.

The presence of the prime ministers of the countries at war is likely to put more pressure on both the teams. India cricket team captain MS Dhoni is aware of the attention.

“The biggest, distinguished guests will be there to see the game,” MSD told India media. “But they are here to enjoy cricket, so we have to be at our best.”

Indian batsmen vs Pakistan bowlers

While the Indian team will be expecting their batsmen to live up to their reputation, Pakistan is banking on its bowlers, especially its seamers.

Indian fans are expecting Sachin Tendulkar to score his 100th century, while there are similar expectations fro Yuvraj Singh who will be playing in his home country.

Dhoni will also be relying on Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to support him in the batting line.

Tweeted Bollywood producer Pritish Nandy: “Pakistan’s bowlers vs India’s batsmen: thats the real battle today.”

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PETA asks Poonam Pandey to strip for animals

While aspiring Indian model Poonam Pandey reiterated her promise to remove clothes if India wins the ICC Cricket World Cup in Mumbai on Saturday, an NGO has appealed to the 19-year old to strip for animals.

In an open letter to the Kingfisher model, PETA India’s chief functionary, Poorva Joshipura, wrote to Pandey: “I wonder if you would consider using your skin to save animals’ skin and make cricket fun for everyone, animals included, by starring in the buff in an ad for PETA to urge the International Cricket Council to switch to synthetic balls?”

PETA – People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is an international charity working to improve conditions for animals.

Joshipura wrote to Pandey: “We at PETA are cricket fans too and, like you, believe that cricket should be fun, but there is nothing fun for the animals who are skinned to make cricket balls.”

“Won’t you consider stripping for a good cause and help us call on the International Cricket Council to show that cricket is truly a gentleman’s sport by choosing synthetic balls over leather ones?

“Your involvement would both turn heads and win hearts to the cause of animal protection.”

Earlier, the cricket fever for the India-Pakistan ICC World Cup semi-final at Mohali had got hotter, with the aspiring actress revealing her intention to reveal all if India won the final encounter.

Poonam Pandey says she will shed her clothes in the view of thousands if India wins the Mohali semifinal against Pakistan, and also wins the world cup.

She says she will also consider a players’ dressing room peep show if the Indian cricket board allows it, according to media reports.

The Indian cricket team is already feeling the pressure to win the most-watched cricket tournament in India. India has won the Cricket World Cup only once, in 1983.

Poonam’s intention to strip for the national cricket team is similar to Argentinian Luciane Salazar and Paraguay’s Larissa Riquelme who had promised to FIFA World Cup.


Model Poonam Pandey says she will remove her clothes if India wins the ICC Cricket World Cup


The aspiring Bollywood actress refutes allegations that this is her way to get free publicity.

Poonam says, “I’m a cricket fanatic and I’m a die-hard supporter of my nation. India needs a lot of support and this is my way of supporting the team.”

Wonder how this will help the team. “Absolutely not,” she tells media. “I’m confident of my body and I’m doing this to excite our boys to play better.”

The self-proclaimed die-hard cricket fan has even started a Facebook page to support the men in blue, many of who are not married yet.

The 19-year old Kingfisher model from Mumbai is one of the most downloaded pictures on the internet.


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PETA wants cricket balls banned

Spare a thought for hapless cows while you enjoy the final battle between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Cricket balls are made of leather, which is procured after slaughtering defenceless animals.

In India, where much of the world’s leather comes from, cattle are marched for days to slaughter without food or water, says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, which is requesting a ban on leather balls.

PETA suggests using synthetic balls instead.

“Synthetic balls are not only kinder to animals but also safer for the environment”, says PETA campaigner and cricket fan Sachin Bangera.

“They are superior to leather balls because they can be made more durable and water resistant, and with the technology available, they can be customised to meet players’ needs.

“We are calling on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to show that cricket is truly a gentleman’s sport by choosing synthetic balls over leather ones.”

PETA India wants ICC to know that animals killed for their skins are routinely abused and cruelly slaughtered.

Animals slaughtered for their skin endure extreme crowding and deprivation; castration, branding, tail-docking and dehorning without any pain relief and cruel transport and slaughter.

It will be a tough call for Indians who worship both – cricketers and cows.

PETA highlights the inhuman treatment afforded to cows. “Those who collapse from exhaustion have their eyes smeared with chilli peppers and tobacco and their tails broken in an effort to keep them moving. At India’s abattoirs, animals are often skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious,” says a PETA statement.

Also, the process of procuring leather has wide-reaching impact on environment and human health.

“Turning animal skins into leather requires massive amounts of toxic chemicals, and runoff from leather tanneries poisons rivers and streams,” says the statement.

Vellore in Tamil Nadu – which has about 6,000 tanneries – is alarmingly polluted, according to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board.

“The chemicals that tannery workers are exposed to have also been linked to cancer, respiratory infections and other illnesses.

The risks are internationally well-documented. “Studies of leather-tannery workers in Sweden and Italy found cancer risks “between 20% and 50% above [those] expected”.


Rugby Sport

RWC 2011: free guide for businesses

Auckland businesses now have free access to a wealth of information and resources to help them prepare for Rugby World Cup 2011, with the launch of Auckland’s Match Ready for Business programme.

Information and resources will be updated regularly till the beginning of the Rugby World Cup 2011 on 9 September. Small and medium businesses in Auckland can register for newsletters and email updates on the site.

The online guide has been developed by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Ltd (ATEED) on behalf of the RWC 2011 Auckland Co-ordination Group.

Match Ready for Business includes:

  • an easy to follow seven step checklist to ensure businesses are prepared
  • video presentations from leading industry figures
  • details of transport plans, commercial restrictions and compliance issues that may affect businesses
  • workforce planning and training programmes available to support businesses
  • tips and tools for welcoming visitors
  • opportunities to connect with visiting international businesspeople.

The biggest event on the rugby calendar is expcted to attract 85,000 visitors to New Zealand and provide a significant economic boost to the ailing economy.

Most of those visitors will visit Auckland, says ATEED business and sector development manager Clyde Rogers who expects the RWC2011 to benefit Auckland businesses by up to NZ$267 million in additional direct spend.

“So we want to make sure businesses have the information they need to be ready and make the most of the opportunities for themselves and for Auckland.

Rogers says the Match Ready programme is aimed at small to medium sized businesses.

“There is a focus on businesses that will have direct contact with visitors, but there is also plenty of information here to help other businesses access opportunities such as supplying goods and services or connecting with visiting business people.”

“Visitors will be interacting with businesses many times a day and, regardless of how much they spend, their experience will influence their impression of Auckland.

“A critical part of being match ready is being prepared to be great hosts, not only to encourage visitors to spend while they are here but also to ensure they leave with positive memories of Auckland to pass on to others. That will translate into even greater long-term benefits.”

Match Ready has been given the thumbs up by business groups including the Hospitality Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Retailers Association and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

“RWC 2011 is a fantastic opportunity for our industry and Match Ready is a really valuable resource to help our businesses prepare for it. We are recommending they spend time on the site and pass the relevant information on to their teams,” says Russell Sinclair, Northern Regional Manager of the New Zealand Retailers Association.

For businesses outside the Auckland region, a national version of Match Ready is being developed by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and will be available in April.

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India-Pak Cricket to slow down work in India

The India-Pakistan cricket match in Mohali in a semi-final of the ICC World Cup is going to be a work-stopper. Described as the battle of battles, this mother of all cricket matches is likely to stop work throughout India.

Sensing the potential impact of the India-Pakistan world cup match on work, many companies are looking at ways to deal with the issue.

Realising the strong-hold of cricket among Indians, and accepting defeat, some companies have offered a day off, or half-day to employees, while other companies want to share the space with cricket, my installing large TV screen in workplaces.

The match is reported to be the most-watched sporting event in the world.

India’s major brand, Dabur India, is considering a day off for its employees but is constrained by the fact that it is the financial year end, and work pressure is going to be very high. Dabur has experienced similar dilemma in 2007 for the T20 final between India and Pakistan. Cricket had won in the battle of attention and the company gave a day off to its employees.

Similarly, PepsiCo India is considering offering half-day leave for employees “if it doesn’t impact the organisation’s functioning” Samik Basu, vice-president (HR) and chief people officer for India Region was quoted in a media report

If a day-off is not a viable option, some employers are allowing its employees to work from home. PVR is one such employer which is open to this option. PVR is also streaming the cricket match live at some of its movie venues, and is considering an exclusive screening for its employees.

However, working from home is not a viable option for customer-facing employees like those of the Future Group’s Big Bazaar, which is India’s largest retailer. The frontline staff will be able to watch the match on large screen especially arranged for the match in the stores.

Some employers have even gone a step further and have come up with ideas of employee involvement. BPO firm Quatrro has organised employee contests about the ICC Cricket World Cup.


Editor recommends Hockey News Sport

Ice Hockey game to go ahead in Christchurch

While the Rugby World Cup 2011 may been the biggest casualty of the Christchurch earthquake for canterbrians, all is not lost.

Encouraged by Prince William’s visit to the earthquake-affected Canterbury, the promoters of International Ice Hockey USA vs Canada have decided to go ahead with the event.

“I do not care if I have to fly them in one hour before the game and out again after, If Prince William feels safe then so should they,” says event promoter Craig Douglas. “Over 150 events between 22 February 2011 (the day of the quake) and Christmas have been pulled out of Christchurch City Council venues and parks.”

The 28-year old second-in-line to the British throne followed his Christchurch visit by meeting the families of the 29 men killed in the Pike River mine disaster, before crossing the Tasman to see flood-devastated areas of Victoria and Queensland in Australia.

The Prince’s visit provided the much-needed confidence to the promoters of the International Ice Hockey’s game two which is set for Christchurch’s CBS Arena on 30 July.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city and the largest in the South Island. Regarded as the most English of cities, Christchurch is situated on the east coast of the South Island.

The venue is not affected by the earthquake and the promoters see no reason for Christchurch residents to miss out on the action sport event of the year.

It’s not about making money, says Douglas.

“It’s about giving the people of Christchurch our support and giving the city and residents back some energy and excitement.

“It’s about giving them something to look forward to.”

The promoters expect the event to provide a NZ$2 million boost to the economy, which may not be much internationally; however for a small economy that was already suffering from recession, this could be a welcome relief for not just Christchurch, but for New Zealand.

Bringing the international series to Christchurch is not without its problems; the North American tour directors are cautious about letting their NZ$100 million product come to a broken city.

“I do not care if I have to fly them in one hour before the game and out again after, If Prince William feels safe then so should they,” Douglas says.

Kerry Goulet, a tour commentator says that Ice Hockey is one of the hardest and fastest sports on earth and that he believes that Cantabrians are a tough bunch and will enjoy that action.

International Ice Hockey promoters are going the extra mile to make this a “real” American Ice Hockey experience with extreme sound and lighting, big screen TVs, action replays and live American announcers.

With the ice floor fresh off the boat from the Netherlands as the first ever fully portable NHL spec ice floor in Australasia, it will be a spectacular display of Ice Hockey entertainment.

In the meantime, the prince has returned to the UK in time for his wedding to Kate Middleton on 29 April.


Rugby Sport

Christchurch loses Rugby World Cup

In a major setback to the quake-affected city, the Rugby World Cup 2011 Tournament partners announced that Christchurch will be unable to host the seven matches scheduled to be played at Stadium Christchurch and these will be rescheduled to be played at other venues in New Zealand.

The decision was unanimously supported by Tournament owners the International Rugby Board, the New Zealand Government, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Tournament organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011).

This follows a detailed review of reports assessing damage to key Tournament facilities and infrastructure caused by the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the city on 22 February.

The stadium operator, Vbase,  could not provide an absolute assurance that all necessary remedial work could be completed in time for RWC 2011, a statement by Rugby World Cup 2011 said.

Stadium Christchurch requires extensive repairs, timeframes uncertain

Quarter finals reallocated to Eden Park

Pool matches to be reallocated to other RWC 2011 venues

Existing ticket holders to be offered refund or tickets to reallocated matches

International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset travelled to Christchurch for the announcement.

“Yesterday we were informed by Stadium Christchurch operator Vbase that it could not guarantee that the extensive repairs required for both the stadium structures and the playing surface could be completed in time.

Christchurch earthquake has caused extensive damage to Stadium Christchurch, which will not be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup 2011 matches

“That information means that Tournament partners have been left with no choice but to make the difficult decision to reallocate the seven matches due to be played in Christchurch.

“This has been a hard decision for all involved, given the place of Canterbury in New Zealand Rugby and the tremendous enthusiasm and support that the people of Christchurch have displayed for RWC 2011.

“The thoughts of the global Rugby family continue to be with the people of Christchurch and everyone affected as they focus on the city’s rebuilding process and repair of key public services and facilities.”

Ticket purchasers for all Christchurch matches will be offered the option of a refund or the opportunity to secure tickets to the relevant reallocated matches.

RNZ 2011 has confirmed there will be sufficient availability of tickets to the rescheduled matches for those wanting to take up that option.

Further ticketing information.

Vbase has indicated that the repair timeframes are so tight there would be no leeway for work delays or for any risks. This prevents Vbase giving assurances that it can meet its RWC 2011 obligations.

The risks:

  • Ongoing investigation required that might reveal the need for further work in relation to structures and playing surface
  • Complexity of a work programme that includes superficial and structural repairs and full replacement of the playing surface
  • Availability of resources (labour, material and equipment) and timeliness of securing consents
  • Aftershocks that might impact on the work programme

“We know Cantabrians are passionate about Rugby and we know that many wanted the matches to remain as a way to unite and heal their shattered city,” says RNZ 2011 Chairman Brian Roche.

“However, we needed to weigh up the risks of continuing with matches in Christchurch with just 25 weeks to kick-off to the world’s third largest sporting event.

“Sadly, we collectively agreed the risks were too great. The timeframes for repairs were too tight, the uncertainty too much.”

NZRU CEO and RNZ 2011 director Steve Tew says. “Our hearts go out to Canterbury fans today given the inevitable disappointment this decision will cause for many.”

“Tournament partners are looking into a number of initiatives that will give Cantabrians a chance to be part of our Stadium of Four Million.

We still want them to play a part in hosting a successful Tournament and to share in the excitement of this event.”

Contingency planning is at an advanced stage, but the process of allocation of matches is complex with many factors to consider, including accommodation, transport and broadcast logistics.

Eden Park is confirmed as the venue for the quarter-finals of October 8 and 9 and a decision regarding where the five pool matches will now be played will be taken jointly by the Tournament’s partners as soon as feasibly possible, likely before the end of March.

“Eden Park was the only logical alternative to stage two of the Tournament’s premier matches given the ground capacity and visitor accommodation demands associated with these quarter-final matches,,” says RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden.

“We are working hard to ensure as many pool matches as reasonably possible remain in the South Island. A key consideration in all of this is to reschedule matches in a way that minimises the impact on other matches and therefore causes the least disruption to existing arrangements for teams and travelling.

“We appreciate this is a time of great uncertainty for fans which is why we are trying to resolve all issues as quickly as possible.

“We are enormously grateful for the support of all our partners in New Zealand during this difficult process and in particular the strenuous efforts by Vbase in attempting to meet our requirements.”

The Rugby World Cup is expected to be the most wagered event of the year, according to most New Zealand betting firms.

British agency Ladbrokes has reported that a near quarter of a million New Zealand dollars has been wagered on the host team, All Blacks.

A Ladbrokes punter has placed a £100,000 ($210,000 NZD) bet on New Zealand winning the World Cup, with odds at the time ‘even money’ for the All Blacks to break their famous global title drought.

“The All Blacks have a patchy World Cup record but somebody with a lot of cash clearly thinks they’re ready to come good next year,” Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said.

Ladbrokes responded instantly and slashed the odds for the All Blacks to 4/5 to win on home soil.

The odds essentially run through as a list of the current International Rugby Board world rankings, with the Investec Tri Nations sides the top three favourites globally.

England and France are ranked fourth and fifth favourites to win.

Massive sums of money have been wagered on the All Blacks in World Cups before.

The NZ Herald reported that at the last World Cup in France, someone wagered $5 million AUD ($5.9 million NZD) for the All Blacks to win, with the odds again at even money for the 2007 favourites.

FAQs by Rugby World Cup 2011

When will a decision be made on rescheduled matches?

RNZ 2011 aims to resolve this by the end of March. This is a complex process with many factors to consider including accommodation, transport and broadcast logistics. Any changes to the match schedule will involve discussions with multiple suppliers and all this will take time.

What happens to tickets to Christchurch matches?

Ticket purchasers for all Christchurch matches will be offered the option of a refund or the opportunity to secure tickets to the rescheduled matches. RNZ 2011 will provide full details about this process by the end of March and communicate with all ticket purchasers directly. Further information can be found here.

Will ticket purchasers be able to get tickets for the same category seat?

RNZ 2011 can confirm there will be sufficient availability of tickets for those wanting to take up that option. Availability in specific categories will depend on the venue to which the relevant match will be reallocated.

What if ticket holders want a refund now?

While the process is being finalised, we are unable to process any refunds. Full details on the policy will be provided by the end of March.What happens to fans who have booked flights and accommodation? There are discussions underway with airline and accommodation providers to determine the transitional arrangements. We urge patience until more accurate advice is provided. Ultimately fans will need to contact their provider directly.

Why are you not releasing the other match reallocations aside from the quarter-finals?

We need time to lock in venue agreements and arrangements with many suppliers including accommodation and transport providers. However, we will be moving through this process as quickly as possible and aim to announce decisions by the end of March.

Could Christchurch still be a training base for some teams?

It is too early to say. We are examining a variety of initiatives to help Christchurch share in the excitement of the Tournament.

Why could Dunedin not host at least one of the quarter-finals?

The new stadium’s maximum capacity is 30,000 compared to 45,000 for Stadium Christchurch so it would not be possible to satisfy all demand for either match. Some fans who had booked for Christchurch would inevitably miss out. Auckland was the logical alternative given the proven capacity and capability of the city and Eden Park to host major events.

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42M Indians watched ICC World Cup so far

Sachin Tendulkar, best indian batsman

First 4 non-India matches get high TV rankings

Indians are enjoying the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in a big way.

While Indians glued to their television set during India’s first ICC World Cup match, with a television rating of 10.3 TVR, they also watched non-India matches in high numbers, according to data released by rating agency TAM.

Overall, the first five matches have been watched by 53 percent of the audience in top six metros, which translates to around 38 million cricket fans stopped everything else to watch live cricket matches.

Taking the warm-up matches and the opening ceremony into account, the tournament has already been watched by a whopping 42 million fans in top six metros.

The average rating of the first four non-India matches was very impressive 2.23 TVR in the top six metros.

Netherlands – England encounter gets a peak rating of 8.87 TVR

Tournament is averaging 4.2 TVR in top 6 metros till the 5th match

The match between Netherlands and England rated 2.8 TVR with a peak rating of 8.87 TVR. Three of the first 4 non-India matches have rated more than 2 TVR in the top six metros. This is five times the rating achieved by top non-India series in recent times.

Sachin Tendulkar, best indian batsman“After the blockbuster opening match, the non-India matches too are setting new trends in viewership and I am absolutely delighted with the response the ICC Cricket World Cup has received,” says Sanjay Kailash, an executive vice president for ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd.

“Befitting its stature, the tournament is generating its own euphoria and buzz, the likes of which I have not seen in a very long time.

“With many of the highly anticipated matches still to come, we are confident that ratings will continue to remain very strong and grow even further in the days to come.”

ESPN Star offers live streaming of ICC Cricket World Cup matches.

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Two Kiwis return home from Cricket World Cup

The New Zealand cricket team participating in the ICC Cricket World Cup in India will be short of two staff members.

Dayle Shackel, the physiotherapist for the team, and trainer Bryan Stronach are returning to New Zealand to be with their families after the recent Christchurch earthquake extensively damaged their properties.

The Black Caps manager Dave Currie told Radio New Zealand that Stronach has returned to be with his pregnant wife, and Shackel’s returning to support his family.

Radio New Zealand confirmed that the New Zealand flag will fly at half-mast during the Black Caps match against the defending champions, Australia, in Nagpur.