MOST READ Arenas are abuzz with drumming, dancing, and flag waving. Boisterous Senegalese supporters packed Marius Ndiaye Stadium on Friday hours before their team took the floor, a floor that was freshly painted just three days earlier.Even referees seem to feel it. In a March qualifier, a Malian player sank a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer against Senegal, pulled off his jersey and sprinted toward fans as if he had scored a goal at the soccer World Cup. No technical foul.Wearing national colors is serious business for players, some of whom have grandparents who lived under colonial oppression.“I take pride in it,” said Senegal’s Maurice Ndour, who played for the New York Knicks last season. “It will be my first time playing in Senegal in front of the home crowd. It’s huge.”South Africa’s Chris Gabriel, center front, launches a hook shot over Senegal’s Gorgui Dieng during AfroBasket tournament at Marius Ndiaye stadium in Dakar, Senegal, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The African basketball championship may lack star power, even electrical power on occasion. But with national pride at stake, it almost always entertains. AfroBasket, which tipped off Friday in Senegal and Tunisia, can’t be compared to a glitzy event like the NCAA tournament. Senegal’s aging national stadium in the capital Dakar, for example, has no air conditioning. A recent women’s AfroBasket game in Mali was paused because of a power cut. (AP Photo/ Ken Maguire)Senegal, with Minnesota Timberwolves big man Gorgui Dieng on board, will be under pressure to win the title, something it hasn’t done since 1997. Angola is the 11-time African champion and hasn’t missed the final since 1997. Nigeria captured its first title at the last AfroBasket in 2015.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad Despite Africa’s basketball potential, Ujiri warns that mismanagement threatens to stall progress. Uriji said governments must take responsibility for neglected stadiums and subpar sports programs. Leaks in the Dakar stadium’s roof were patched up 48 hours before the tournament. It’s the rainy season here.“We’re (Africa) moving forward in technology, we’re moving forward in banking, we’re moving forward in real estate,” Uriji said. “While these things are getting better, sports are being left behind. How is that possible?”The NBA has seen opportunity in Africa and has an academy outside Dakar to train the continent’s top young players. The NBA has put on exhibition games in South Africa and says a regular-season game is coming to Africa at some point.Ujiri said it’s also a good sign that Africans — like him — are earning jobs in leadership positions, including coaching and scouting.“I see that as growth of the game that’s going to help get kids playing at a younger age,” he said. Senegal’s supporters drum during an AfroBasket match between Senegal against South Africa at Marius Ndiaye stadium in Dakar, Senegal, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The African basketball championship may lack star power, even electrical power on occasion. But with national pride at stake, it almost always entertains. AfroBasket, which tipped off Friday in Senegal and Tunisia, can’t be compared to a glitzy event like the NCAA tournament. Senegal’s aging national stadium in the capital Dakar, for example, has no air conditioning. A recent women’s AfroBasket game in Mali was paused because of a power cut. (AP Photo/ Ken Maguire)DAKAR, Senegal — The African basketball championship may lack star power — even electrical power on occasion. But with national pride at stake, it almost always entertains.AfroBasket, which tipped off Friday in Senegal and Tunisia, can’t be compared to a glitzy event like the NCAA tournament. Senegal’s aging national stadium in the capital Dakar, for example, has no air conditioning. A recent women’s AfroBasket game in Mali was paused because of a power cut.ADVERTISEMENT Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:41UK’s Prince Harry detonates landmine in Angola as visits site being cleared by Halo Trust01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games View comments Read Next BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Tunisia won in 2011 but will play without Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri, who said that the Mavericks preferred he rest a sore knee. Tunisia hosts the knockout phase after this weekend’s flurry of games in Dakar and Rades. AfroBasket also provides a qualification path to FIBA’s world championship in 2019 and the 2020 Olympics.Top players sometimes opt out because of scheduling conflicts and, especially, their national federations’ unwillingness to pay for insurance. Other NBA players not coming are Cameroonians Joel Embiid, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Pascal Siakam, as well as Congo’s Bismack Biyombo and Emmanuel Mudiay.The delayed tournament also makes it hard for Africans in American schools. Angolan Bruno Fernando, identified by FIBA as Bruno “Fernandes,” has begun his freshman year at the University of Maryland.Still, NBA and other scouts are expected, so players like 25-year-old Ndour, now a free agent, can help themselves as they help their teams. Carlos Morais of Angola was invited to the Raptors’ training camp after earning MVP honors at the 2013 African championship.Silvio De Sousa, who has committed to Kansas for 2018, is suiting up for Angola.Joe Lopez, president of the SEED Academy, said many participants play professionally, “but you have two or three that will be discovered.” He pointed to SEED student Privat Koyamba, 19, of Central African Republic.“This will be for him a golden opportunity to showcase his talent,” said Lopez, who was the starting center on Senegal’s victorious team in 1978.SEED is an international NGO in Senegal that trains promising young players with a goal to build future leaders.Reggie Moore, born and raised in California and a naturalized Angolan, said AfroBasket play is “very physical” but he wasn’t worried about the lack of air conditioning.“It’s not a big deal. We’re used to it,” said Moore, a 6-foot-7 power forward and Oral Roberts University alum. McGrady, Lobo, Self and McGraw headline Hall of Fame class LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary International basketball federation FIBA turned to Senegal and Tunisia as emergency co-hosts of this men’s championship just two months ago because Republic of Congo backed out, as did replacement host Angola. The 16-team tournament was pushed back to September, too close to training camps for many Africans who play in the NBA.Tunisia hosted in August 2015, two months after 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack at a beach resort. As a precaution, games were moved to Rades, outside the capital Tunis.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe tournament still carries on, as it has done since 1962.“They always end up finding a way, and it always ends up being a great tournament, so we must find a way to improve it, to get more out of it,” said Masai Ujiri, a Nigerian who is president of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. “I’ve played in that tournament. I’ve coached in it. It’s an unbelievable feeling. There’s a remarkable atmosphere. I wish more people knew about it.”
MOST READ “Jordan does Jordan things,” Berger said. “So there’s not really much you can say. I’m obviously disappointed, but happy to be in the position I was in today.”Berger began the round in third place, three shots back. He tied Spieth for a lead with a 5-foot birdie putt on 15 as Spieth was making bogey on 14 and tied him again with a birdie from 8 feet at 17.The pair, playing a group apart, both hit their approach shots on 18 into the same greenside bunker. Both chipped out close to the hole and both saved par to force the playoff.Berger hit his drive on the first playoff hole left and into the crowd behind a fairway bunker. Spieth’s drive clipped a tree to the left and landed in the fairway, but about 150 yards short of his normal drive and 230 yards from the hole.Spieth’s approach fell into bunker. Berger’s ran off the green to the left.ADVERTISEMENT WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Boo Weekley, who began the round a shot back in second place, shot 37 on the back nine to tie for fifth at 9 under, despite the support of a large gallery, which could be heard cheering “Boooo!” and “Boo-S-A!” every time he did something good.Rory McIlroy tried to find his short game this week and used his third putter Sunday to help him shoot a 64, his lowest round on the tour this season. He tied for 17th at 6 under.“I must say I felt a little more comfortable on the greens than I did the previous three days,” McIlroy said. “So, this might be one that stays (in the bag) for a few weeks.”Defending champion Russell Knox had a poor round, with six bogeys on his first 10 holes. He shot a 73 to finish at even par.Grayson Murray had the tournament’s only hole-in-one, acing the 177 yard eighth hole with an 8-iron. It also was the first on tour for the 23-year-old North Carolinian. He shot a 68 to finish at 5 under.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide Spieth had to back up after hitting his bunker shot to see the hole. When the ball rolled straight in the cup he threw his club and did a flying chest bump into caddie Michael Greller.“If I was in Berger’s shoes, I be cursing Jordan Spieth right now for the break off the tee and then holing a 30-yard bunker shot, that’s a lot of luck,” Spieth said.Spieth didn’t waste any time extending his lead to three strokes Sunday. He hit his approach shot to 6 feet on the first hole and made the birdie putt, then made a 5-footer at No. 2. But those would be his final two birdies until a 16-footer on the 15th hole.He also survived a couple of big scares. The first came when his drive on 13 went right but stuck on the side of a hill to stay out of the water. He missed a 7-foot birdie putt, but saved par.He then hit his tee shot on the 15th left, just avoiding the water and the hazard line in the rough. He chipped to the middle of the green and made a 16-foot putt for birdie, which he thought he had missed. .His second shot at 17 also looked as if it might hit the course’s signature lake, but landed just on the edge of the green and he made par.“That’s a lot of luck,” Spieth said. “But I took advantage of the good breaks and am happy to come out on top.”He’s the third player to go wire-to-wire alone in the lead at the Connecticut event. Gene Littler did it in 1959 and Tim Morris in 1982. Spieth’s only other wire-to-wire win was the 2015 Masters.Sunday’s win was also his first win in a tournament debut. The last player to win in Cromwell in his first start was Phil Blackmar in 1985.Charley Hoffman (66) and Danny Lee (67) tied for third, three strokes back. Big3 begins: 3-on-3 league has close games, not much Iverson The 23-year-old Texan joined Tiger Woods as the only PGA Tour players with 10 victories in the era since World War II. Woods won 15 times before he turned 24.“That was one for the ages,” said Spieth, also the winner at Pebble Beach in February.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSpieth held a one-stroke edge after each of the first three rounds. He closed with an even-par 70 to match Berger — who birdied three of the final six holes for a 67 — at 12-under 268.Berger, the Memphis winner two weeks ago before missing the cut last week at the U.S. Open, just missed a 50-foot putt from off the 18th green left that would have forced a second playoff hole. Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES What ‘missteps’? Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Jordan Spieth tips his hat to fans as he is introduced at the first hole during the final round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament, Sunday, June 25, 2017, in Cromwell, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)CROMWELL, Conn. — Jordan Spieth needed an extra hole, a little bit of luck and an amazing final shot to finish off a wire-to-wire victory in the Travelers Championship.The two-time major champion holed out from 60 feet for birdie from a greenside bunker on the first hole of a playoff with Daniel Berger on Sunday at TPC River Highlands.ADVERTISEMENT View comments
The Beermen picked up their fifth title in three years, all under coach Leo Austria, and hiked the franchise’s overall championships to a league-best 24 in 38 Finals appearances.San Miguel also claimed its first Commissioner’s Cup title since 2000, when it topped Sta. Lucia in five games.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsThe championship also brings the Beermen closer to a Grand Slam this season with only the Governor’s Cup title left to win.Alex Cabagnot registered a rare triple-double in the game-clinching conquest with his 19 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and three steals to be adjudged as the Cignal-PBA Press Corps Finals MVP. MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Motivated to seal his first title in his professional career, Charles Rhodes came out smoking to open the game as he dropped 14 of his 30 markers in the first quarter. He also had 11 boards, four blocks, three assists, and two steals.Marcio Lassiter also had his best game to date, shooting 5-of-13 from thres to finish with 24 points, alongside five boards and four dimes.With Rhodes leading the charge, the Beermen turned a close 23-21 lead to a 37-26 edge to end the opening frame.They continued to pounce on the hapless KaTropa, sharing the rock with 24 assists and shooting 12-of-29 from beyond the arc, to extend the lead to as high as 28, 94-66, late in the third period.Arwind Santos came off the bench and dropped 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, while Chris Ross got 14 markers, seven boards, three dimes, and three steals to make up for June Mar Fajardo’s struggles in the game.ADVERTISEMENT Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Troy Rosario topped TNT with 21 points and five rebounds, while Roger Pogoy got 16 in the loss.The Scores:SAN MIGUEL 115 – Rhodes 30, Lassiter 24, Cabagnot 19, Santos 17, Ross 14, Espinas 5, Semerad 4, Fajardo 2, Agovida 0, Heruela 0, McCarthy 0, Van Opstal 0, De Ocampo 0.TNT 91 – Rosario 21, Pogoy 16, Smith 15, Castro 13, De Ocampo 7, Garcia 7, Tautuaa 4, Williams 4, Rosales 2, Semerad 2, Reyes 0.Quarters: 37-26, 62-42, 94-69, 115-91. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ LATEST STORIES China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games What ‘missteps’? Visayan fans stunned by Pacquiao loss to Horn Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netLooking back at San Miguel’s second conference struggles in the past, coach Leo Austria called his team’s Finals appearance this season as destiny.And on Sunday, that destiny became a reality as the Beermen closed out the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals in style, dominating TNT in Game 6, 115-91, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.ADVERTISEMENT Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games View comments
Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Sources: Blatche reluctant to join Gilas in Lebanon Fiba Asia View comments El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant MOST READ Hill last played with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the recently concluded Orlando Summer League.He will make his debut for the Hotshots in their next game against Alaska on Friday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIES Hill, meanwhile, went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft after four years in Illinois.He averaged a team-best 17.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 steals in his senior year with the Fighting Illini. Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Cinmeon Bowers. PBA IMAGESStar is leaving no stone unturned this 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup as the team decided to replace Cinmeon Bowers with Malcolm Hill on Monday.Coach Chito Victolero confirmed the news as the Hotshots are set to parade the 21-year-old Hill after just one game with Bowers.ADVERTISEMENT “Yes, nagpalit na po kami (Yes, we’ve already changed our imports.),” the soft-spoken mentor in Filipino when asked if the development was indeed true.Bowers posted 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in Star’s 103-86 victory over Blackwater on Sunday but left a lot of pundits unimpressed with his style of play, with the most notable being his lackluster showing in the team’s tuneup game against Ginebra in the offseason.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars
After missing several deadlines, the crucial Barapullah Nallah elevated road, linking the Commonwealth Games Village in east Delhi with the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium was finally inaugurated today.Barapullah Nallah elevated roadThe four-km-long corridor, the first elevated road in the city, will now be exclusively used for ferrying Games participants from the athletes’ village near Akshardham temple to the main venue and vice versa.It will be a six-seven minute-drive for the athletes and other officials staying in the Games Village to reach the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium using the elevated road which otherwise would have taken nearly 40 minutes.Delhi PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chouhan, whose department has constructed the showpiece infrastructure, flagged off 240 low floor airconditioned buses from the Saraikale Khan side of the road to the stadium. The road will be opened for general traffic after the Games.”I am proud to dedicate the elevated road to the people of the city. After the Games, it will provide a key link between east Delhi and south Delhi,” he said. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has already announced that the elevated road will further be extended up to INA market so that people from east Delhi and Noida can reach south Delhi without using the Ring Road.Built at a cost of Rs 550 crore on a Nullah bed, the road criss crosses the Ring Road, Railway tracks near Nizamuddin Railway station, Mathura Road and Lala Lajpat Rai Marg.”At Mathura Road, the hight of the road has been kept 20 meters above the bed of the drain to maintain proper visibility of heritage structures near Nizamuddin,” an official said. The project has already missed several deadlines and the city government had faced criticism for the persistent delay in its completion. PWD officials blamed “unprecedented rains” for the delay. Officials claimed the department has saved nearly Rs 25 crore in project out of the allocated amount. They said the amount could be saved due optimisation and reduction in the prices of raw material like cement and steel during last one and half years. The actual work in the project was started in December 2008.advertisement
Suresh KalmadiAfter the government claimed it was powerless to remove Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi, the CBI appears to have taken things in its own hands.The agency sleuths swooped down on Kalmadi’s houses in Delhi and Pune in simultaneous raids on Friday morning and seized several documents.The officials raided his palatial government bungalow on Kamraj Lane at 7 am as well as his houses and office premises at four other locations in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, including the OC office.The CBI also quizzed Kalmadi’s personal secretary Shekhar Shrivastava at its headquarters for nearly five hours. The house of his other personal secretary, Manoj Bhure, in Pune was also raided.A CBI spokesperson said “important documents” were seized during the raids.But a defiant Kalmadi emerged from his bungalow to proclaim his innocence. “I am innocent till proved guilty. The media is the one pronouncing me guilty,” he said.In fact, he sought to put the government in the dock saying it was privy to all the decisions taken by the OC. “All the decisions in the OC have been taken by an executive board. So many government officers are on that board,” he said. “The CBI has raided my house, my office, my house in Pune and also my brother.” The CBI had earlier this month requested the government to remove Kalmadi from the OC, saying he and some of his aides were obstructing the probe into the alleged irregularities in organisation of the Games. CBI director A. P. Singh had written to cabinet secretary K. M. Chandrasekhar in this regard.advertisementThe OC chief, however, stoutly denied that. “The CBI chief says I am interfering in the probe. That is not correct. Three days ago, I wrote to the CBI director and informed that the OC had handed over all the documents. In case there were some more left, the same would be provided. I have offered all cooperation to the CBI today,” he said.The CBI said in a statement that the raids on Kalmadi were a part of the ongoing probe into the scam in the Queens’ Baton Relay. He has not been named as an accused in the baton relay case so far.But CBI sources said the agency had over a dozen specific complaints against Kalmadi which it was probing.They said fresh FIRs may be lodged against him, especially in the alleged scam in procurement of CWG overlays.The Congress left Kalmadi, who is the party’s MP from Pune, to fend for himself, saying the government or the party had nothing to do with his role as the OC chief . ” Law is equal for all.There is no question of backing anybody,” Congress spokesman Abhishek M. Singhvi said.The BJP said the CBI action was an eyewash and the raids had come too late. “Why so much of a delay? Why so many documents being allowed to be misplaced deliberately?” party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Preparing to be a perfect co-host of World Cup, Sri Lankans have been advised to refrain from the habit of drying clothes in public among others and to polish their etiquettes before the mega event, a media report said on Sunday.A Sri Lankan laundry man washes clothes on the banks of river Kelani in Colombo. APThe etiquette orders have been issued to residents living around the Premadasa international cricket stadium in Colombo, the Independent Sunday Times reported.”These include abstaining from hanging out clothes for drying in public view, putting out garbage on the road sides and engaging in street games such as hop scotch and cricket matches,” the paper said.The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup will be the 10th Cricket World Cup and will be co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 19 to April 2.Sri Lanka would co-host the world cup series for the second time and several matches are scheduled to be played in Colombo and two other grounds developed recently in Pallekele in central hill country and Suriyawewa in deep south.”Our country will get a lot of exposure from this event.So, we have told the people to take special care during this time to keep their surroundings neat,” Colombo’s Special Commissioner Omar Kamil was quoted as saying in the report.The Urban Development Authority would colour wash all the buildings around the stadium at its own expense.-With PTI inputs
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave the thumbs-up to the World Cup format, saying the gaps between matches would help players recover from minor injuries to allow him field the best XI.On the other hand, several of Dhoni’s counterparts felt that adapting quickly to the subcontinent conditions would be a challenge in the 45-day tournament being played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. “What’s good is that all the teams are looking in good nick. And the format… there are long breaks in between [matches]. What it means is that if you play and have a bit of a niggle you can really recover and we all can always field our best XI. That’s a big plus point for us. I think it will be an open tournament and the team that will play consistent cricket over the 45 days will lift the World Cup,” Dhoni said.”A lot has been said about the gap that exists between matches. So we will look to go to [see] some historical monuments during these gaps,” he said, in a lighter vein, at a press conference here where captains of all 14 teams were present.Dhoni also made the opening remarks after Australia captain Ricky Ponting. “The next 35 to 45 days will be really interesting for cricket because it’s a mega event. Of course, you know that it will be held in sub-continental countries where cricket is among the biggest sports. I welcome all the other teams and ask them to enjoy the hospitality of the subcontinent and at the same enjoy cricket,” he said, dressed in navy blue team blazer.advertisementWhen asked about his reaction to Suresh Raina coming close to missing the flight from Chennai to Dhaka, Dhoni said he was not too concerned. “Not really when you have a squad of 15 you don’t really mind it,” he said. “Anyway there is always someone to give a lift to a cricketer in India. I didn’t worry so much about it; just hoped all was well with him and which was the case.”Ponting admitted that a few senior players were not in the team due to injuries, but hoped that the replacements would step into their shoes well to fill the void.Aiming for a fourth straight World Cup title for Australia – and his third successive as captain – Ponting said that he was confident that his team can go all the way to retain the crown if it adapts quickly to the conditions and the crowds of the subcontinent.”Conditions we faced in both practice games [in India] were difficult. But we are actually quite happy going into our first game against Zimbabwe [in Ahmedabad on Monday] since arriving in the country two days before our first practice game,” he said.”We are looking ahead to the tournament. We are very proud of our record in the subcontinent as far as ODI cricket is concerned.”Andrew Strauss, who captained England to an Ashes win over Australia but lost the ODI series 1-6 Down Under recently, agreed with Ponting on adapting to local conditions quickly. “The conditions here are very different from what we encountered in Australia.The key is to make the adjustments very quickly. There are not going to be any easy fixtures in this tournament,” he averred.Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara said that the real test for teams will come in the quarterfinals and semi-finals.”In a World Cup, you have got to be better than all the teams, not just the teams that you have mentioned [India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka]. Playing in from of home crowds and home grounds for most of the games will be quite important for us,” he said.”At the same time, the format itself means that if you manage to qualify for the quarter-finals, you’ve got a good chance to play two good games to get into the final. Consistency is the key, but if in the quarterfinals and the semifinals you get that it will be the most important thing.”Bangladesh captain Shakib-al Hasan said he has set high goals for his team. “We want to play the whole tournament. We had very good preparations in the last two-three weeks and guys are confident and they all are fit. We are looking forward to the tournament.”
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