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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shoaib Akhtar: Man of a moment , A true LEGEND

Shoaib Akhtar: Man of a moment
I suppose with age, one tends to develop a higher regard for people, objects or events which had defined one’s existence for fear that their value will be completely lost on future generations, slipping into irrelevance. Posterity sets a very high standard and what is regarded as priceless today may not merit entry into the nation’s vault of riches tomorrow.
One such gem is Shoaib Akhtar and we must not let his career be condemned to the footnotes of history.
The cold lens of recollection does not lend itself to understanding the worth of a player such as Shoaib, particularly if one were to consult his career stats. With only 46 tests to show for a career spanning almost 14 years, Shoaib’s numbers reek of underachievement, particularly in light of promising mid-20s averages in both premier forms of the game. However, that’s all they are in danger of being viewed as – ‘promising’ but not ‘great’. To a detached observer, 178 test wickets would not warrant recognition on the same plain as the likes of Wasim and Waqar.
However, to dismiss Shoaib’s place in our history based merely on the sparseness of his numbers would be a monumental oversight. For a brief yet unforgettable moment in time, Shoaib Akhtar captivated a generation. He was not an unfulfilled promise or a cautionary tale of pride before fall. Labeling him as such would suggest that he could have given so much more. Shoaib gave all that he could in the only way he knew how.
His is not an objective greatness, gauged by records and chronological landmarks. His greatness lies in the manner in which he chose to showcase his gifts to the world. True, his star did not burn for long and, even while it did, it flickered in varying capacities. But in those few moments when it sparked, it was a conflagration capable of transfixing an entire nation and incinerating those within range.
Does the above sound like hyperbole? That’s because it is! One must resort to the sensational when recalling Shoaib because his exploits, like the man himself, were larger than life. He forced the greatest batting line-up of his era to kneel in subjugation on multiple occasions. He humbled the little master. He staged remarkable comebacks. More than any other cricketer of my generation, Shoaib made me feel like the impossible was possible. That one man could scare the heck out of 11 others.
Nothing compared to the visceral exhilaration of watching Shoaib hurtling in, exploding onto the bowling crease, uncoiling those hyper-extended elbows, and letting rip a swinging bomb of a delivery. Nothing. Not even the most brutal of Shahid Afridi’s innings can measure up to Shoaib in full flight. It’s the primal beauty of a pure fast bowler, with the aesthetic multiplied ten-fold by Shoaib’s uncompromising individuality. His unflinching and, ultimately, self-destructive refusal to reign himself in. It was art etched in adrenalin.
My earliest memory of Shoaib is also the most vivid and it perfectly encapsulates his appeal. I began following cricket around the time we were dumped out of the 1996 World Cup. Back then, one team stood out as the collective boogey-men of Pakistan cricket.
We couldn’t escape them. No matter where we turned, they were always around to hand us a comprehensive beating. For 14 consecutive ODIs they flogged our spirits, each defeat underscoring our inadequacy.
Until one evening in Sharjah when, in the space of one over, Shoaib reduced South Africa’s dominance to nothingness.
The game had been following the usual pattern. We had been dismissed for a paltry score and the South African machine was striding towards what appeared a predetermined conclusion.
Then Shoaib stepped into the breach and the oppressors became the oppressed. Disregarding history, Shoaib ripped through the middle order with a kind of irrepressible savagery that may have prompted Hansie Cronje, sitting in the commentary box that evening, to wonder whether it was more demon than man which terrorized his team that day. What a sight he was: pounding in, snorting fire and spitting venom. The nation was in raptures. It was a violently cathartic liberation from the heel of the South Africans, all thanks to Shoaib.
Perhaps the cost of such a gift is the inability of it to endure. Maybe it’s not humanly possible to maintain that level of sublime fierceness without succumbing to the reality of your physical limits, for Shoaib was soon off the field, leaving the scraps to his teammates.
That was Shoaib in a nutshell. The ecstasy soon to be followed by the agony. And this is why future generations will resist giving him his due. They will complain that he always broke down. That he was never good enough to reach the heights of Imran and Wasim.
They fail to understand, though, that Shoaib never once aspired to be another Imran or Wasim. To do so would require him to compromise the very qualities that made him unique. Longevity was never an option as he had no interest in being anything other than a fast bowler. Not fast-medium. Just Fast. Even at the end of his career, in his most humble moments, he was unable to hide the necessity of speed to his legacy.
While this pre-occupation set him apart, it threatens to damn him for posterity. Shoaib’s critics will contend that a lifetime of indiscipline and physical self-abuse robbed his country of many years of exceptional service. He is accused of playing only for himself just to indulge his ego.
So what if he was fueled by ego?
What is the problem with a guy trying to prove that he is as good as he thinks he is? If Shoaib’s ego was the driving force behind his career, who are we to judge him for that? There are far worse motivations to represent your country, such as the ones Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Amir were compelled by. I would rather Shoaib don Pakistan’s colours for the selfish need to dazzle the crowd rather than the covetous impulse to betray his country.
It is unclear at this time what history will make of Shoaib. A man who lived for the moment will perhaps best be appreciated by those who lived in that moment with him and I will remember him fondly.

Man United edge closer to title, Liverpool thrash Birmingham

Maxi Rodriguez scored a hat-trick against Birmingham. - Photo b AFP
Maxi Rodriguez scored a hat-trick against Birmingham. - Photo b AFP

LONDON: Manchester United maintained their six-point Premier League lead with four matches remaining after they beat Everton 1-0 with a late header by Mexico striker Javier Hernandez on Saturday.
Chelsea remained in the hunt by beating West Ham United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, with Fernando Torres finally getting off the mark in his 14th appearance for the champions.
United, who visit Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, have 73 points after the striker nicknamed Chicharito, or Little Pea, ended Everton’s resistance six minutes from time at Old Trafford.
Chelsea, who left West Ham bottom of the league, are second on 67, with Arsenal, who are away to Bolton Wanderers on Sunday, on 64.
Manchester City, who visit Blackburn Rovers on Monday, are fourth on 56 with fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on 55 after they could only draw 2-2 at home with West Bromwich Albion.
Liverpool are only three points further back after thrashing Birmingham City 5-0 at Anfield, helped by a Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick.
Sunderland, who had taken just one point from their previous nine games, ended the dire run in emphatic style by beating Wigan Athletic 4-2 to ease their relegation worries.
Wolverhampton Wanderers against Fulham, Blackpool v Newcastle United and Aston Villa v Stoke City all finished 1-1.
Seventh-placed Everton were unbeaten in seven league games going into the match at Old Trafford but their record at the ground is dire, with their last win coming in 1992.
They were unable to end that drought on Saturday, although, well-organised and hard-working in defence, they kept United at arm’s length for much of a sweltering afternoon.
United, beaten in the FA Cup semi-finals by Manchester City last weekend and held 0-0 at Newcastle United on Tuesday, cranked up the pressure in the last 15 minutes and got their reward when Hernandez rose well to meet an Antonio Valencia cross and power in his point-blank header.
United have now won 16 and drawn one of their 17 home league games. Victories in their next two league matches would secure the title with two games to spare but they are unlikely to be easy – away to Arsenal and at home to Chelsea.
“Today’s game was tricky. Everton are very resilient and some of their defending was fantastic,” United manager Alex Ferguson told the club’s website (www.manutd.com).
“We had shots blocked near the line, some misses and the goalkeeper made two or three great saves. You say to yourself:
‘It’s going to be another late one here.’ You can just smell the history of the club and so it was to be.
“We took gambles, we took risks. We put Wayne Rooney in the middle of the pitch, we brought Ryan Giggs on, Michael Owen on.
We just kept going and I think we can be very pleased today.”
The day’s scorching heat was replaced by a thunderstorm for the evening game at Stamford Bridge and for long periods Chelsea struggled to cope with the awkward conditions and some spirited play by their lowly London rivals.
Chelsea grabbed the first goal at the end of the first half when Frank Lampard banged in a low cross from Ashley Cole.
Centre back David Luiz rattled the bar with a 25-metre pile-driver before Torres came off the bench in the 76th minute and, eight minutes later, swept in his first goal for the club he joined from Liverpool for 50 million pounds ($82.81 million).
Florent Malouda rounded things off with a goal in stoppage time.

PCB, BCCI to talk on Indo-Pak cricket ties after IPL: Subhan Ahmed

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed has said that official talks with the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) to restore Indo-Pak cricket series will resume after the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
Ahmed said that the PCB is in contact with Indian cricket board, Geo News reported.
If both sides bring minor changes to their schedule, an Indo-Pak series would be possible this year, he added.
Ahmed also said that the PCB was in contact with the ICC task team, and there would soon be good news about the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan.
Responding to a question related to runaway former wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haidar, who will return to Pakistan on April 25, Ahmed said that the player has yet to respond to the PCB’s letter.
The now retired wicketkeeper had stunned one and all by fleeing the team hotel in Dubai hours before the final one-day international against South Africa last year. After reaching London, he had claimed that he had got death threats from a person who wanted him to fix matches, and subsequently sought asylum in the United Kingdom.

Sreesanth and Riya Sen to MARRY - India Tv

Riya and Sreesanth together

Mumbai- Routers, Another bachelor in Indian cricket team has succumbed to the pressure of getting married. Sreesanth has denied the rumour of his affair with Riya Sen and has agreed for an arranged match. “You know how conservative South Indian families are. They don’t want me to wait too lon g and stay single. My parents keep pressurising me about marriage, so I thought that it’s best to just give in than fight it,” he told DNA. He also squashes affair rumours with Bollywood hottie Riya Sen. “I am not seeing Riya Sen. There is no romance between us. We have hung around together and I enjoy her company, but only as a friend,” says Sreesanth. It seems that romantic liaisons between cricketers and B-town celebs, has become the latest trend in the industry. First it was Zaheer Khan, who is rumored to enter marital bliss with actress Isha Sharvani sometime soon, then it was Virat Kohli who is said to be dating Sarah Jane Dias, and even rumors of Yuvraj Singh getting too close with actress Akshara Gowda are making headlines. And now the latest entrant in this list is S. Sreesanth, who is rumored to be dating actress Riya Sen. Well, while the duo’s increasing closeness has had rumor mills spinning, the South Indian bowler was quick to refute any claims about his link-up with the actress. Clarifying that he is not dating the daughter of yesteryear actress Munmun Sen, Sreesanth said, “I am not seeing Riya Sen. There is no romance between us. We have hung around together and I enjoy her company, but only as a friend.” I am planning to get married now–Sreesanth According to DNA reports, the bowler is tired of being linked with actresses from both Bollywood and South India, and so to put an end to such gossips, his family has started hunting for a suitable bride for him. “My family is of the opinion that I should get married now and they are looking for a match for me. You know how conservative South Indian families are. They don’t want me to wait too long and stay single,” Sreesanth told the daily. “But right now, I want to concentrate on my game. Now that we have won the World Cup, the onus is on us to keep up the standard. So I don’t really think hard about how parents are going about my marriage right now,” the cricketer disclosed. Riya’s friends negate rumors about her and Sreesanth Meanwhile, putting an end to the alleged link-up between Riya and Sreesanth, a close friend of the actress said that Riya is often seen cheering for the cricketer during the ongoing IPL season 4 as she is the brand ambassador of Sreesanth’s team Kochi Tuskers. “Moreover, she was spotted with Sreesanth because the two were recently shooting for an ad together,” disclosed the friend. Well, we guess that only time can tell whether they are just friends or more. Till then lets wait and watch!!

Tiger Woods: 'Working on' marriage with Elin

Tiger Woods is talking. A little. He granted ESPN and the Golf Channel five-minute interviews that took place yesterday at Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, Fla. Some highlights of the Golf Channel chat:
On the state of his marriage with Elin right now: "We're working on it and it's a process that will remain private between her and I."

On why he couldn't say no to women: 
"I don't know, now I know. It's part of what I learned in treatment, being there for 45 days you learn a lot. You strip away the denial, the rationalization and you come to the truth and the truth is very painful at times and to stare at yourself and look at the person you've become…you become disgusted."
UPDATE: USA TODAY's Mike Hiestand reports that CBS actually turned down the chance to talk to Tiger. They didn't like the restrictions put on the interview.
On becoming a national punch line:  "It was hurtful, but then again you know what? I did it. I'm the one who did those things and looking back on it now with a more clear head, I get it. I can understand why people will say these things because you know what, it was disgusting behavior. As a person, it's hard to believe that was me looking back on it now."
On what exactly happened Thanksgiving night: "It's all in the police report, they investigated it and they have it on public record, there's a lot of stuff between Elin and I that will remain private and that's about it."
On the bracelet he's wearing:  "It's Buddhist, it's for protection and strength and I certainly need that."
And from the ESPN chat:
On what Woods expects for a fan reaction to his return: "I don't know. I don't know. I am a little nervous about that, to be honest with you."
On confessing infidelity to his wife: "She was hurt, she was hurt. Very hurt. Shocked. Angry. And, you know, she had every right to be."

CBS didn't blink when Tiger Woods called

Now, you've seen everything: TV saying no to Tiger Woods.
That, says CBS' LeslieAnne Wade, is why you didn't see Woods on CBS Sunday. The network, she says, was offered the same kind of five-minute chat Sunday afternoon that ESPN and the Golf Channel snapped up and aired Sunday night — but passed because of the time limit. Not that CBS, which airs The Masters, isn't interested in talking to Woods. Says Wade: "Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS."
INTERVIEW: Tiger 'nervous' about fan reaction
It's almost amazing anybody would turn down Woods' "first interview," as both ESPN and Golf Channel billed its sit-downs. The Golf Channel's Dan Higgins says Woods did not want interview footage to air until NBC's PGA Tour coverage had concluded.
ESPN and Golf Channel got to pick their interviewers —Tom Rinaldi and Kelly Tilghman, respectively — and no subjects were off-limits.
Asked whether it's unusual for subjects to dictate interview lengths and air times, ESPN's Mike Soltys said "it's not very common. But this circumstance isn't very common either." Said Golf Channel's Higgins: "I don't know if it's unusual. Every circumstance is different."
Tilghman was an interesting choice for the interview since she was suspended for two weeks in 2008 for saying young players who wanted to challenge Woods should "lynch him in a back alley." She apologized and Woods accepted.
If Woods — notoriously meticulous about burnishing his image before his scandals spilled out — wants to show he's changed, the orchestration of his so-called first interviews suggests he's kept some old habits. His logical strategy might be that, after his public monologue last month and then Sunday's brief chats, he'll soon be done talking about his private life — without having faced many in-depth questions. As Rinaldi noted on ESPN before his interview aired: "A five-minute limitation is very real and affects and shapes the questions we asked."
At least CBS showed that while networks will fetch every Woods shot with their cameras, they don't always have to roll over.
•ESPN's first-round coverage of The Masters is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET. Online, CBSSports.com will have an hour of TV-like live coverage at 3 p.m. ET — and continuous live online coverage of five holes — 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. So it's possible viewers won't see Woods' return — first-day tee times will be announced two days in advance — although ESPN would likely begin its first-day Masters coverage as early as dawn if Augusta National decided to allow expanded coverage.
Cinderellas:
Fans might say they love to see Cinderellas triumph in the NCAA tournament.
But in a tournament already lacking some of the usual big names — North Carolina, UCLA, Connecticut — that can draw casual fans nationally, CBS is now left with lots of little-known squads, such as St. Mary's and Northern Iowa.
Which suggests this year's upset-crazy tournament might test whether viewers really do want to watch Davids rather than Goliaths.
Or, it might show something else: It doesn't matter all that much who's playing.
Consider that ratings hardly budged for the two biggest upsets so far. St. Mary's win against Villanova on Saturday drew a preliminary national rating of 4% of U.S. TV households — up just 3% from the time slot last year. And Northern Iowa's win against Kansas, a team picked to win the NCAA title by 42% of the 4.78 million ESPN.com bracket entries, drew 6.5% of U.S. households —down 3% from last year. For all the upsets, CBS through Saturday averaged 4.6% of U.S. households per tournament game — exactly the same as last year.
Running numbers:
CBSSports.com says its first-day NCAA coverage drew 3.4 million hours of live streaming video, up 20% from last year and its so-called "boss button" drew 1.7 million hits — up 60% from last year's tournament total. … This year's bracket-busting: Only 12 ESPN.com brackets, out of 4.78 million entered, correctly picked the first eight teams to make the Sweet 16.
Spice rack:
TNT's Charles Barkley says, if Michael Jordan "surrounds himself with different people" and not hire cronies, he'll be fine as the Charlotte Bobcats owner: "I don't think business and friends mix, and that is the only thing that worries me about this." Barkley, along with TNT NBA studio colleagues Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith, will call the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls on Thursday (8 p.m. ET) as they work their first game since 2001 — the trio will hype that one-shot novelty assignment by appearing on NBC's Tonight show Monday night. …Mike Belotti, Oregon's athletics director for less than a year after being its football coach for 14 seasons, joins ESPN as an analyst, saying it's "a dream come true." … ESPN's Tony Kornheiser, on his local Washington, D.C., radio show, drew Lance Armstrong's attention — and twittering — with the show's long-running jokes about how motorists should run down pushy bicyclists. On the show Friday, Kornheiser told Armstrong "these rants are over," with Armstrong suggesting public figures have to be careful: "I have people who follow my career that, if I say 'jump,' they say 'how high?' That's a little scary, but that's the reality of the world we live in today." Fans taking celebs too seriously? Nuance being lost amidst all the new media? Imagine that.

Barry Bonds' wife files for divorce in Los Angeles -FOX SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (ROUTERS) — Court records show Barry Bonds' wife of 12 years has filed for divorce in Los Angeles.
Liz Watson filed to end the couple's marriage on Thursday. She cited irreconcilable differences, and documents state the couple have already reached a settlement agreement.
Details of the agreement were not included in the initial filing. Attempts to locate Bonds' attorney Friday were unsuccessful.
Watson withdrew a separation petition that was filed in June.
She is seeking joint custody of the couple's 11-year-old daughter.
The former Pittsburgh and San Francisco slugger and Watson were married in 1998.
Bonds' first marriage to Susann Margreth Branco ended in a highly publicized divorce in 1994

Joe Montana meets with Univ. of Montana coaches

MISSOULA, Mont. (ROUTERS) — University of Montana football coach Robin Pflugrad says NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana met with Griz football coaches this week.
Montana's son, Nate, is a backup quarterback at Notre Dame. Pflugrad would not confirm or deny when a reporter with the University of Montana student newspaper The Kaimin asked if Tuesday's meeting surrounded Nate Montana's possible transfer to UM.
Pflugrad said Joe Montana has four kids and they talked about them all. He said he was aware of Nate's situation at Notre Dame, but declined further comment. Nick Montana was a redshirt freshman at Washington in 2010.
Joe Montana played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, winning four Super Bowls.
On Feb. 2, when Pflugrad announced his new recruits, he said he was still looking for a dropdown quarterback.

Joe Montana's son among 11 Notre Dame athletes arrested

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The son of former Notre Dame standout and Super Bowl champion Joe Montana was among 11 Fighting Irish athletes arrested on misdemeanor charges of underage drinking at a party Friday night.
A total of 44 people were arrested after city police responded to a call about a fight near a roadway and discovered the party, said St. Joseph County Police assistant chief Bill Redman.
Two non-athletes face a misdemeanor charge of providing alcohol to minors. The arrests were handled by state excise police, who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on Saturday.
TEAM REPORT: Inside the Fighting Irish
The most recognizable athletes arrested were Nate Montana, a walk-on quarterback who was the backup to starter Dayne Crist coming out of the spring, and Tim Abromaitis, the second leading scorer on the Irish basketball team at 16.1 points a game last season.
Montana spent last season as a backup at Pasadena City (Calif.) College. Several incoming freshmen are expected to compete with him for the No. 2 spot when practice begins next month.
The other athletes arrested were wide receivers Robby Toma and Tai-ler Jones, linebacker Steve Filer, kicker Nick Tausch, cornerback Lo Wood, and offensive linemen Chris Watt and Tate Nichols; incoming freshman point guard Eric Atkins; and incoming hockey goalie Steven Summerhays.
Most of those arrested had been released on $150 bond, Redman said. They are scheduled to make court appearances July 30.
If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he was aware of the arrests and was gathering information.
"If there is any team-related discipline to be issued, it would be handled internally," he said.
Bernie Cafarelli, Notre Dame's sports information director, said basketball coach Mike Brey also would handle any punishment internally.
Joe Montana played at Notre Dame from 1975-1978 before joining the San Francisco 49ers.

With No. 1 ranking in sight, Donald retains lead at Heritage

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Luke Donald (FSY) was more concerned about who was behind him at The Heritage than what's ahead should he win Sunday.
Donald shot a 1-under 70 on Saturday to take a one-stroke leader over defending champion Jim Furyk (FSY) after three rounds at Harbour Town Golf Links. A victory would vault the third-ranked Donald to No. 1. Donald knows if thinks too much about that, he'll lose sight of the stellar field trying to chase him down.
"I think there's a bunch of people behind us that have a good chance, too, so I don't count anyone else out," he said. "It should be a good battle out there."
It usually is with Donald and Furyk.
Furyk, the American ranked 13th in the world, used a par save from the bunker on the 72nd hole to win the Tour Championship by a stroke over Donald last year and claim the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.
Donald came right back the next week, beating Furyk 1-up in Ryder Cup singles in Europe's victory.
"I got a little revenge," he said.
This time the prize for Donald would be two-fold: His first season with multiple wins on the PGA Tour and the elevation to No. 1 in the world.
There were seven of the world's top 20 players here this week, a field strong enough to push Donald past the idle No. 1 Martin Kaymer (FSY) and No. 2 Lee Westwood (FSY).
Westwood would take the top spot with a win at the Indonesian Masters, where he holds a five-stroke lead, should Donald falter.
The two Englishmen exchanged messages about their play.
"Yeah, he sent me a message yesterday just saying, 'Good playing,' and I sent one back," Donald said. "We're obviously Ryder Cup partners and we're friends off the course. We never wish bad on each other."
Donald let a few early nerves show through by hitting his approach to par-5 second hole out of bounds left, leading to a double-bogey 7 that dropped him from the lead.
But Donald steeled himself with two solid par saves on the third and fourth holes when his iron play was shaky. He was in the rough in front of a trap on par-4 third, yet chipped it up to 6 feet for the par.
Then, Donald was well right of the green on the par-3 fourth. Again, he saved himself with the short game, chipping inside of 2 feet.
Donald regained his momentum on the par-5 fifth with a 12 footer for birdie.
"Those up-and-downs and keeping some momentum going where I wasn't going completely backwards was big for me," Donald said.
Brendon de Jonge (FSY) (66) and Scott Verplank (FSY) (67) were two shots behind at 9 under. Masters runner-up Jason Day (FSY) (71), Ricky Barnes (FSY) (67) and Tommy Gainey (FSY) (67) were 8 under.
Furyk held the lead for much of the back nine at Harbour Town Golf Links, but bogeyed the closing lighthouse hole for a 69 to drop back.
Donald, who won the Match Play Championship and was fourth at the Masters, called on the steady, focused style that made him one of the world's best to move back to the top with birdies on the fifth and seventh holes. Donald's put his approach on the 16th hole to 3 feet for his final birdie to reach 11 under.
Furyk had his chance to hold on to a share of the lead, but sent his second shot on the 18th hole into a bunker behind the green, and could not make the 16-footer for par after blasting out.
Furyk and Donald will be paired in the final group Sunday for what sets up as a fabulous finish in what might be the final Heritage. A PGA Tour fixture since 1969, the tournament is without a title sponsor, which tour and event leaders say is essential for returning in 2012.
Both have become Harbour Town masters, combining for 14 rounds in the 60s over the past three tournaments.
"I think I'm there, I'm in position and when I play well I feel like this golf course really suits my game," Furyk said.

Carl Edwards holds off Kyle Busch to win Nationwide Series

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carl Edwards (FSY) was coming in for his postrace news conference when a race official remarked that he now has enough guitars to start a band.
Edwards certainly hit all the right notes Saturday to capture his fifth career victory at Nashville Superspeedway, holding off Kyle Busch (FSY) to win the Nashville 300 and receive another of the guitars given to winners at the track.
"We'll need a drummer," Edwards joked.
  • RESULTS: Nashville 300

  • TRUCK SERIES: Kyle Busch dominates for win at Nashville

Edwards set the pace for much of the Nationwide race at the track, where he has won four Nationwide events and one Trucks Series race. He led 148 of the 225 laps and passed Busch on lap 191 to take the lead for good. On the final lap, Edwards weaved past a slower car and held Busch at bay as he took the checkered flag.
Edwards said the finish was more of a struggle than it appeared.
"Early in the race, our car was really superior," he said. "I could kind of stretch out a lead whenever I wanted to, but at the end of the race, I was really pedaling for all I had. The guys in the 18 (Busch) ... did a good job of adjusting their car.
"It was kind of exciting at the beginning of the race. I thought we were going to run off with this thing, it's going to be easy, but (at the end) that was white-knuckling, driving as hard as I could drive, racing him and Brad (Keselowski)."
Keselowski, a two-time winner in Nashville, finished third, edging polesitter Joey Logano (FSY) in fourth, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (FSY) in fifth.
Edwards finished his victory with his trademark back flip and a brief trip to the edge of the grandstands to acknowledge cheering fans. It was Edwards' 31st Nationwide win overall and second of the season, having won two weeks ago at Texas.
Edwards plans to auction the trophy guitar on eBay with the proceeds going to the family of Roush-Fenway Racing employee Jonathan Bunting, who died earlier this week in North Carolina.
Edwards' victory kept Busch from pulling off the first back-to-back wins at the track. Busch had dominated in winning the Trucks race Friday night.
"It was a good race for us. (The car) was fast, just not fast enough. It was off just a little bit in every area, and we could only muster a second today," Busch said.

Kobe outfoxes younger stars for 4th MVP trophy

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James racked up a silky-smooth triple-double. Kevin Durant dropped 34 points in 30 minutes. Amare Stoudemire slammed and jammed his way through Staples Center to 29 points.
They still couldn't beat Kobe Bryant to his latest trophy.
The Lakers guard was well aware he would equal Bob Pettit's NBA record if he could win his fourth All-Star game Most Valuable Player award on Sunday, and he went after it with aggression from the opening tip. The All-Stars deferred to Bryant for much of the night, and he delivered in front of his Hollywood fans.

Kobe has more on line than just title for Lakers

Kobe Bryant hasn't called anybody anything so far in the NBA playoffs, though it's easy to imagine what kind of names he had in mind for his teammates following a shocking Game 1 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

Meandering their way through an erratic regular season was one thing. Getting in the way of what may be Bryant's most important championship of them all is quite another.
The comparisons won't begin for real until the Los Angeles Lakers make the finals, something that isn't quite the certainty this year that it was in the past. Come June, though, the debate will likely be in full bloom.
Is Kobe just like Mike? Will winning a sixth title and matching Jordan's total put Bryant on the same level as the player many consider to be the greatest in NBA history?
It will be increasingly hard to argue otherwise, assuming championships are the ultimate measuring guide of a great player. They are, and the truly great players find ways to win them even as the supporting cast around them changes and new rivals emerge.
Jordan did it with only Scottie Pippen along for the entire ride. Bryant is trying to do it with only Derek Fisher as the constant in the backcourt.
Jordan fans will argue their man's statistics are, for the most part, more impressive, and that Jordan would have won even more titles had he not taken off nearly two years at his peak to go play baseball. That may be true, but statistics aren't everything and you can't assume championships you didn't win.
The one thing Jordan had and Bryant has, though, is the one thing all great players have: The ability to do whatever is necessary to rally teammates and win games when games must be won.
There was no better example of that than in Game 2 against the Hornets, when Bryant abandoned his glitzy superstar role and made it his night's work to stalk Chris Paul for the length of the basketball court. The box score shows Bryant scored only 11 points, but his gritty play seemed to wake up teammates who played the opener like they never expected the Hornets to put up a fight.
Bryant was back to his old ways on Friday in New Orleans, hitting two big 3s to start the second half and leading the Lakers to another win with 30 points. His lame-duck coach was happy to see his star scoring again, though he didn't exactly shower him in praise.
"Kobe can play better than that," Phil Jackson said.
Jackson should know. The Zen Master has been courtside for all five of Bryant's championship runs, just as he was in Chicago for all six of Jordan's titles. He understands better than anybody what it takes to motivate a superstar when it's most crucial.
Getting the superstar's teammates to step up their roles is trickier, though Pau Gasol finally came to life in Game 3 after playing passively in the first two games. Bryant has been exasperated at times with Gasol's tendency to be too nice during a game, but Gasol was scowling just like Bryant on Friday as the Lakers restored order to a playoff series they should easily win.
Whether they can keep winning against better teams than the undermanned Hornets is the challenge. The Lakers coasted for periods during the regular season — not surprising since they've been in the NBA finals for the last three years and played 67 playoff games in that span — and found out in Game 1 that turning on the intensity takes some work.
But they seem even better equipped for a long playoff run than in the last three years. Their bench is deeper with Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom is the league's best sixth man, and Andrew Bynum has shown signs of being a dominant inside force for some time to come.
Most importantly, though, they have Bryant.
He's 32 now and in his 15th season in the league, a time when the aches and pains begin to start adding up. For the third time in the last four seasons, though, he played every regular season game even as his per-game minutes were down from the season before.
Friday's game against the Hornets was his 201st career playoff game, yet he approached it like it was his first. Like Jordan, he seems to be able to find an extra gear in the playoffs when he needs it most, and, like Jordan, he gets his teammates to pick up their games, too.
Come June the chances are good the Lakers will be in the finals, just like they have been in the last three years. Once there, the odds will be even better that they will win it all again.
Bryant will have matched Jordan title for title.
And then the debate can really begin.

Paul must overcome thumb injury for Game 4 against Lakers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Chris Paul (FSY) insisted he could not remember exactly how or when he wound up with a left thumb injury that forced him to practice with a black wrap on his left hand on Saturday.
He did have an excuse, though.
"We've got more stuff to worry about than my thumb ... such as winning this game," Paul said of the Hornets' Game 4 matchup on Sunday night with the Los Angeles Lakers, who lead the best-of-seven, first-round series 2-1.
"It's a big game for us. It's 2-1. It's nothing to stress about or anything like that, but I think tomorrow is a game we really need to win," Paul said.

Paul is expected to be fine for Sunday's game and Hornets coach Monty Williams said his All-Star guard did not appear to be limited by the injury to his non-shooting hand.
The Hornets can ill-afford to be without Paul at his best. He has averaged 25 points, 10.3 assists, five rebounds and two steals during the postseason. His 33-point, 14-assist performance in Game 1 was the main reason the Hornets were able to open the series with an upset on the road.
The Hornets hoped to get a boost from returning home after surprisingly splitting the first two games in Los Angeles. Instead, the Lakers walked out of a jam-packed, boisterous New Orleans Arena with a 100-86 win, the most lopsided result of the first three games.
Kobe Bryant (FSY) was his typical prolific self with 30 points, but for Lakers coach Phil Jackson, the key to the win was the way Andrew Bynum (FSY) 14 points, 11 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (FSY) (17 points, 10 rebounds) alternated in giving the Lakers a dominant presence in the paint.
"The strength of our game kind of came back to play in this series," Jackson said. "Kobe obviously had a big game offensively, but it was really Drew in the first half and Pau in the second getting things done."
If the Lakers win on Sunday, it would give them a chance to close out the series in Los Angeles on Tuesday night and avoid having to come back to the Big Easy for Game 6 on Thursday.
A Los Angeles win also would mark the third time in four games that the visiting team had won in the series.
"It was always funny to us. Everybody talks about home court advantage," Bryant said. "We don't care about that stuff. It doesn't matter to us where we play. ... Our philosophy is, it's just a bunch of noise. That's all it is. I just block it out.
"If you have kids, you're used to dealing with that," added Bryant, who has two young daughters. "If you're trying to get something done and your kids are yelling all over the place, you've just got to focus on what you're doing."
Williams had sought to downplay any home advantage for the Hornets before Game 3, reminding his players that fans cannot shoot or rebound, and that the only way to benefit from the energy of a home crowd is play a well enough all-around game to keep the crowd engaged.
But the Hornets gave up 14 offensive rebounds, committed 14 turnovers and missed six free throws. Although they were as close as 75-70 early in the fourth quarter. They never truly threatened to take a lead in the second half.
Williams said the key is for his players to remember they've been competitive for most of the first three games and not get demoralized now that the Lakers are on the brink of taking a stranglehold on the series.
"I told the guys, 'You don't realize how close you are. You're playing against the defending champs and they're playing some of their best ball and you're right there,'" Williams said. "It's frustrating personally because for whatever reason, I'm not putting them in a position to make that run."
Part of the problem for the Hornets in Game 3 was that Paul was a non-factor in the second half, when he scored only four of his 22 points. Paul refused to use his thumb injury as an excuse, and instead blamed himself for not being aggressive enough when the Lakers made a defensive adjustment to deny him the ball.
Bryant, meanwhile, has been through enough postseasons to know that a playoff series is all about adjustments, both during and between games.
Indeed, Williams spent Saturday's practice working on ways for the Hornets to make scoring inside and rebounding harder for the Lakers. Meanwhile, some Hornets players have talked about Game 4 being a must-win.
Rather than seize upon that as a sign that the Hornets are in trouble, Bryant said the Lakers need to see it as a reason to ramp up their own efforts.
"We have the series lead. That doesn't mean we're in command of the series," Bryant said. "So their approaching it as a must-win is just a bigger challenge for us to come out and try to match that energy. It should be fun."
Bryant also is drawing motivation from the fact that the game is taking him away from home — and his children — on Easter Sunday.
"My girls said, 'Well, just win. It's OK (to be away on the holiday) if you win. Just don't lose,'" Bryant said.
Then the five-time NBA champion added with a grin: "I don't know where they get that attitude."

INDIA’S LEGENDARY BATSMAN SACHIN TENDULKAR INSPIRES NEW BOLLYWOOD MOVIE

India’s legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar inspires new Bollywood movie – Cricket news
India has a craze for movies and cricket. Latest news from the country has linked the two entertainment domains.
According to reports, an Indian director Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s new movie, ‘Ferrari ki Sawari’, is based on India’s legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar.
Tendulkar may have won his first World Cup in his playing career but movies have not been his forte.
The India cricket team idol played superbly during the ICC World Cup 2011 to help his side lift the most coveted trophy of the game for the second time in their history.
With glory in check, the master batsman may well be on his way to inspire moviemakers around the country. Tendulkar’s illustrious career definitely demands a production based on his cricketing endeavours. Vidhu Vinod Chopra has found himself an opportunity to display his creativity.
The question of the batting maestro’s appearance in the movie is lurking in the minds of his fans, who must be thrilled by the idea of seeing their favourite cricketer star in a movie.
The movie’s leading role is being played by actor Sharman Joshi.
The film is about the unconditional love between a son and his father. The youngster’s ardent chase of a cricketer’s Ferrari transforms his fantasy of playing cricket at Lord’s into a dream that comes true.
Tendulkar is the obvious suspect in the tale as he too owns a Ferrari. There is still no word on whether the player will feature in the flick but it would not be a surprise if he did.
He has already starred in one Bollywood movie, ‘Vignaharta Shree Siddhivinayak’, which was directed by Yashwant Ingavale.
Tendulkar apparently knows about Chopra’s project and has commented on the film through a micro-blogging website.
“Vinod Chopra has a script called 'Ferrari Ki Sawari'. Just heard it. Sounds awesome,” Tendulkar tweeted.
The Bollywood flick is scheduled to be released in the later half of 2011. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that one.

SRI LANKA’S MAHELA JAYAWARDENE SUPPORTS LASITH MALINGA’S DECISION TO QUIT TEST CRICKET



Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene Supports Lasith Malinga’s decision to Quit Test Cricket

Sri Lanka’s middle-order batsman Mehela Jayawardene has come out in support of fellow teammate Lasith Malinga's decision to quit Test cricket.
Earlier this week the pacer Malinga announced that he will not be playing in the longest version of the game.
Jayawardene while talking on the matter, stated that the phenomenal pacer took the right decision and it will help him prolong his cricket career.
“In order to extend his career he has to quit test cricket. In fact his target is the next world cup in 2015 and by bidding adieu to tests he has prolonged his career in shorter version of the game.” Jayawardene said.
According to insiders, Malinga has been carrying a knee injury and in order to save himself from doing more damage to his knee, the slingy pacer decided to bid farewell to five-day cricket.
Jayawardene reiterated that in today’s cricket the pacers have to face the brunt of hectic schedules which shortens their cricket career.
Malinga is currently the number one strike bowler for Sri Lanka and the Lankans will want him to play for as long as he can, for which it is imperative for Malinga to cut down his workload.
Earlier there were rumours in the media that Malinga had taken the decision to retire from Test cricket after he was criticized by certain sections in Sri Lanka Cricket, alleging that the player had opted to play the IPL (Indian Premier League) instead of representing the country.
However, Jayawardene brushed aside such rumours and insisted that the bowler had only taken the decision keeping his future in front of him.
The former vice-captain said that Malinga was prone to injury and during his time of captaincy he always had to calculate the amount of workload on the bowler to make sure that he would remain fit nonetheless, even after such a cautious approach he suffered prolonged injuries in the past.
“He had worked hard and made a fine comeback and is performing brilliantly. He has realised that he can't sustain that huge work load and perhaps has prolonged his career. I am very happy for him," said the Kochi Tuskers Kerala skipper, Jayawardene.
Slinga Malinga as he is knick-named sometimes made his test debut for Sri Lanka in July 1, 2004 against Australia, while in the same month he played his first ever One Day International for his home side against the United Arab Emirates.
So far in 30 Test games he has taken 101 wickets while in one-days he has played 77 games and taken 114 wickets.
Malinga has been equally devastating in the shortest version of the game, the Twenty20, where he has played in 29 games taking 35 wickets.
Considering his current form, he will surely be an asset for Sri Lanka in the next world cup which is scheduled to be played in New Zealand and Australia in 2015.

PAKISTAN BEAT WEST INDIES IN THE FIRST MATCH OF THE DIGICEL ODI SERIES

Pakistan beat West Indies in the First Match of the Digicel ODI Series

Pakistan have managed to pull off a victory in the first clash of the five-match One Day International (ODI) series against West Indies by eight wickets at the Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia on 23 April, 2011.
This victory comes after Pakistan were handed an embarrassing defeat by the hosts in the only Twenty20 match of the series, played at the same venue.
However, today the outcome was different as Afridi XI managed to grab their first win after the team’s elimination from the recently concluded ICC World Cup 2011, where the Men in Green were handed a defeat in the semi-final by arch rivals India.
With 221 runs as the target, Pakistan managed to successfully chase the tally with the loss of just two wickets.
Afridi who did not have to come out to bat looked jubilant at the sight of his batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq steering the side to victory.
After the match Afridi praised the commendable performance of his batsmen with some encouraging words for the middle-order batsman Misbah, saying that the batsman was doing a great job for the team. Misbah remained unbeaten, scoring 73 runs.
Afridi reiterated that he had confidence in his batsmen and felt that the target was not difficult enough for his side to reach.
Talking on losing the toss he said, “When Sammy said he wanted to bat, I was very happy. The boys did a great job. I did expect the pitch to turn; there was moisture on it and I know my boys are capable of doing it.”  
Afridi felt that his bowlers had done a commendable job in restricting the hosts to a mediocre total.
Praising the efforts of Pakistan’s main strike bowler in this series Wahab Riaz, he said, that the bowler was extremely talented and had done well against India in the World Cup. The skipper advised the bowler to be more focussed on his bowling.
Riaz took two wickets in his ten overs by conceding 62 runs. He was extremely expensive early on, being smacked by the Windies.
Meanwhile, the West Indies skipper Darren Sammy admitted that his side was completely rattled by the bounce and spin in the wicket, due to which the batsmen failed to put a big total on the board.
Speaking after the match he said, “We dug ourselves into a hole when the spinners were bowling. we have to come better in the next game. i was surprised to see the spin and bounce in this wicket; we have to work in nets and come back on Monday.”
From the West Indies, it was the inspirational 25-year old Devendra Bishoo who took the only two wickets. He first removed Ahmed Shahzad and then Mohammad Hafeez.
The two teams will now meet each other in the second match of the series on April 25, 2011.

Happy Birthday Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar !


The cricket fraternity on Sunday saluted Sachin Tendulkar, who turned 38 on Sunday, for the joy and happiness he gave to the countrymen with his achievements and wished him a long innings in his career and life.
His national team-mates, colleagues from different IPL sides and former cricketers paid tribute to his longevity and the passion for the game.
"As a kid, I have always looked up to him. I have grown up watching him play cricket. He is a great player and great human being. He always helps his teammates with his vast knowledge of the game. I want to wish him a very very happy birthday and hope he plays for a long long time to come," said Team India member Virat Kohli.
"You are the very very very best ... keep going strong paaji ... we all love u ... happy birthday ... may God be with u and ur family ... love always," tweeted fast bowler S Sreesanth, another Team India team-mate and member of the IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala.
Left-handed batsman Saurabh Tiwary, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, said, "I just hope that Sachin gets the Bharat Ratan award for all the hard work he has done for the country. I think an award should be named after him so that every young player gets it whenever he achieves some cricketing excellence."
Hard-hitting Australian and Tendulkar's Mumbai Indians teammate Andrew Symonds said, "I wish him a very happy birthday and all the success in future."
Kolkata Knight Riders' pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji wished the champion batsman achieve many more glorious fates in his career.
"Sachin Bhai, I wish you a very happy birthday and we are all proud of you for whatever you did for the country so far. It's magnanimous. You will definitely play for many many years to come," he said.
KKR's wicketkeeper-batsman Manvinder Bisla said, "He is an inspirational figure to me and I respect him a lot. He is a great player. I wish him all luck in the future."
Describing Tendulkar as legend, former India batsman Navjot Singh Sidhu said, "He has given so much to the country with the World Cup triumph being the most memorable high. Look at the piles of runs he has scored in both Tests and ODI cricket. He is a legend."
Tendulkar, who is leading Mumbai Indians against Deccan Chargers in an IPL match here today, did not celebrate his birthday because of the death of the spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, of whom the champion batsman is a devotee.

" I think Shahid has been using me well in matches " : Mohammad Hafeez


Mohammad Hafeez said he has drawn on the confidence placed in him by Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, particularly when he been given a chance to bowl in recent matches.
Hafeez was speaking after he earned the Man-of-the-Match award in the first one-day international against West Indies, which Pakistan won by eight wickets on Saturday at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
He took one for 36 from his allotted 10 overs and played his part, along with Afridi and Saeed Ajmal, in strangling the scoring of the West Indies batsmen as the home team struggled to 220 for six from their 50 overs after choosing to bat.
"I think Shahid has been using me well in matches," said Hafeez. "Whenever he thinks there is a chance for me to exploit the conditions, he gives me the ball.
"Whenever I get a chance to bowl, I try to restrict the batsmen, and I am getting wickets with that. I am always happy for the team when I bowl."
Hafeez then opening the batting pummelled seven fours and one six in 54 from 45 deliveries to give Pakistan a flying start in their run-chase.
"I have been batting more consistently because of the hard work I have been doing in practice sessions with the coaches," he said. "Right now, the advice that they have been giving is working out for me.
"All I want to do is continue this form for Pakistan and I am very happy to contribute to the team's performance, which is required in the remaining matches for us to be able to win the series."
His hard work has caught the eye of Afridi, who hailed the way he has been playing in recent times.
"I'm very confident with the way Hafeez is contributing in the team," said the Pakistan captain. "I think he is a real team man and he's doing a great job with the ball and the bat."
The second ODI will be played on Monday at the same ground.

IPL 4 : All - Round Mumbai Indians beat Deccan Chargers by 37 runs


Rohit Sharma scored an unbeaten 56 and Lasith Malinga took 3/9 as the Mumbai Indians proved to be too good for the Deccan Chargers, beating them by 37 runs in game 27 of IPL-4 at Hyderabad on Sunday.
Earlier, Malinga castled Kumar Sangakkara and then accounted for Ravi Teja as Mumbai took a firm grip of the match.
Kieron Pollard got rid of Bharat Chipli as Deccan lost their 4th wicket against Mumbai .
Malinga yorked Shikhar Dhawan and then followed it up with a brilliant run out of Cameron White.
The Deccan Chargers' chase did not get off to the best of starts as opener Sunny Sohal was run out.
Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds scripted a fantastic recovery with a record fifth wicket partnership as title contenders Mumbai scored 172 for four in their 20 overs.
Rohit (56 not out, 34 balls, 5x4, 3x6) and Symonds (44 not out, 33 balls, 4x4, 1x6) added 102 runs off only 65 balls for the unbroken fifth wicket after MI were tottering at 70 for four at the start of the 10th over. Incidentally, the duo played together for Chargers during the first three editions.
The duo thrashed Dale Steyn and Dan Christian for 16 and 24 runs respectively to score 40 off the last two overs. Christian went for 48 runs from his four wicketless overs.
Davy Jacobs (32, 20 balls, 5x4, 1x6) who was back in the squad opened with 'Birthday Boy' Sachin Tendulkar. It was Jacobs who started the initial onslaught as MI scored 47 runs in the first five overs before he was caught by Pragyan Ojha off Ishant Sharma's bowling.
All eyes were on birthday boy Tendulkar who turned 38 on Sunday. Tendulkar on Sunday got the 'Orange Cap' back from Paul Valthaty and is now the highest run-getter in the ongoing IPL.
Cheered by daugher Sarah and son Arjun who were seen waving MI flags from stands, the legend hit a few crisp boundaries and again looked like making a substancial contribution.
But to their utter disappointment, the maestro scored only 28(24 balls, 4x4) before he was holed out in the deep by Steyn off Amit Mishra's bowling.
Tendulkar charged out but failed to get to the pitch of a flighted delivery from Mishra as Steyn took a well judged catch at long-on.Tendulkar's dismissal triggered a collapse as MI from 70 for one slumped to 70 for four within a space of six deliveries.
Ambati Rayudu (7) who has had a good tournament so far played an ugly sweep shot off Mishra two balls later. Shikhar Dhawan stationed at deep square leg timed his jump to perfection send Rayudu back in the hut.
Kieron Pollard who has hardly batted in the tournament was promoted up the order but he tried a delicate paddle shot off Pragyan Ojha's bowling and the ball lobbed up for skipper Sangakkara to take a simple catch.
Rohit and Symonds then started a repair job. They were cautious for a couple of overs before they started playing their strokes. Symonds' first boundary was swatted shot off Christian over mid-off. Rohit also played some classy shots as they added 50 runs off only 45 deliveries.
Symonds showed his class in the penultimate over bowled by Steyn. He started with a crashing shot over extra cover for four. He followed it up with a six effortlessly hit over long on. Then he took a couple and followed it with another drive through the cover region.
If Symonds got 16 runs off the 19th over Rohit got 24 off the last.
Not the one to be left behind, Rohit smashed six off Christian over long-on brought the team's 150. Two balls later he hit him over deep mid-wicket for another six and the next ball soared in to the deep square leg stands as Rohit completed his back-to-back fifty. He signed off with a straight drive which also brough the 100 run partnership for the duo.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba Died , Sunil Gavaskar condoles


Former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar today joined millions of Indians in condoling the passing away of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who breathed his last this morning.

Gavaskar said Baba's death is a huge loss for his family as they are devotees of the spiritual Guru.

"He's been the moving force behind my life and the life of my faily. For us he is God almighty and therefore we are pained at the current situation," Gavaskar said.

Sai Baba passed away this morning due to cardio-respiratory failure in the Anantpur distrcit of Andhra Pradesh.
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