PBA IMAGESSTA. Rosa, Laguna – Allan Durham scored 29 points, had 27 rebounds and missed a triple double by just three assists in leading Meralco to a 96-90 decision of Star in a Petron Saturday Special Game that sealed a playoff berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Sta. Rosa Multipurpose Complex here.The Bolts built big leads early and showed a lot of poise and composure in staving off rallies by the Hotshots all the way until the final buzzer, as they bounced back from a tough loss to sister team TNT KaTropa to formalize entry into the quarterfinals after rising to 6-2.ADVERTISEMENT Lady Tamaraws stop Lady Eagles for 2-0 start in PVL Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra shoots for an eighth straight win – and possibly top seeding – on Sunday when the streaking Gin Kings battle Grand Slam-seeking sister team San Miguel Beer at Smart Araneta Coliseum.The Kings got the perfect workout they needed on Friday night in dispatching Blackwater, and extending the conference’s longest winning run would, in all likelihood, mean a top four berth and a twice-to-beat incentive in the first round of the playoffs.Game time is 6:45 p.m.With a 4-3 record, the Beermen are still out of the top four and a loss would greatly hamper their chancesof tabbing that win-once advantage in the quarterfinals.Despite the great form they are enjoying, Ginebra coach Tim Cone refuses to admit that they are the team to beat thus far in the conference.“San Miguel is the team to beat,” Cone said after a 98-81 win over the Elite two nights ago. “I read somewhere that coach Leo (Austria) was saying that. I just chuckled after reading it.”And Ginebra has the motivation to beat San Miguel and make life hard for the Beermen entering the homestretch of the elimination round.ADVERTISEMENT “We’re still hurting from that all-Filipino Finals,” Cone added. “We will come into that game with the positive energy (after beating the Elite handily), all I wished is that we had one more day to prepare for them.”In the first game, Alaska also tries to extend its own streak and get solidly in the fight for a playoff berth when the Aces battle sputtering KIA Picantos at 4:30 p.m.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim View comments Durham didn’t do it all, actually, as the entire Meralco starting unit finished in twin digits in scoring with Chris Newsome spiking a 17-point night with seven assists and Baser Amer making three triples in finishing with 13.The loss was the third straight after four consecutive wins for the Hotshots, who have now dropped out of the top four for the meantime and allowed the Texters to squeeze in.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingMeralco will still face Alaska, GlobalPort and San Miguel Beer, in that order, in closing out its elimination round schedule and would need to go at least 2-1 to seal a top four berth, and a twice-to-beat privilege.Malcolm Hill had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Hotshots. 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 LATEST STORIES MOST READ Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo
Coach Greg Chappell with Rahul DravidThe Indian team’s theme for this World Cup was called, “Let’s Win Together.” In Trinidad, the man on the street has his own theme. India, they sigh, shaking their heads and smiling crooked smiles, “plenty licks, man, plenty licks.” On the morning of match against,Coach Greg Chappell with Rahul DravidThe Indian team’s theme for this World Cup was called, “Let’s Win Together.” In Trinidad, the man on the street has his own theme. India, they sigh, shaking their heads and smiling crooked smiles, “plenty licks, man, plenty licks.” On the morning of match against Sri Lanka, Marvan Atapattu looked across at a bystander. “If we make 220, it’s enough, we’re through.” The bystander, an Indian, asked how could the Lankan could be so confident? “Look at their faces,” Atapattu said, “For them, 220 is like 350.”In the last 11 months, India’s batsmen have failed to bat out a full 50 overs in 12 of 17 ODIs outside home. Is this really what the world thinks of our cricket team? The envy that a strong India generates has given way to something approaching the ranks of tongue-clucking sympathy in the Caribbean and scorn in the Anglo-Australian cricket world. Former West Indian captain Richie Richardson admits to disappointment, “I thought India had the best batting line up on paper. We all wanted India to go a little bit further. I can’t work out what went wrong, lack of confidence maybe, or internal problems.” It’s like Indian cricket has been struck over the head with a blunt instrument and is trying to regain consciousness and comprehension. The questions are short, sharp and seek meaning from the muddle: What the…? But why? Now what?Team IndiaWhat the…? The Indian team’s training sessions at the Cup were two-faced: one, a spurt of enthusiasm in Jamaica for the warmup games, the other, a few ho-hum sessions in Port of Spain. Like all other teams, India were allotted only two and a half hours, but their sessions looked like they were men on borrowed time.”You practise like you play,” said one Indian player, indicating that younger players needed to go into nets with a purpose. May be the Indians did play like they practised: flat, perfunctory, with no urgency. Former West Indian fast bowler Ian Bishop has seen a trend over the last season: “Their fielding is un-athletic and that is just based on those matches I saw.”advertisementThe Australians, who set the benchmark in the field, have hired former American baseball pro Mike Young as their fielding coach. Their sessions work around improving ‘balance and vision’. Sri Lanka, constitutionally, temperamentally much like the Indians, put in a minimum of an hour of fielding practice in every training session, concentrating on what captain Mahela Jayawardene calls, “the small things” in one-day cricket, every run-out, every half-chance taken puts you a step closer to winning.”Sharad Pawar to take a drastic stepBut let’s not be harsh: the Indians did try, and not just the boring stuff like fielding practice. After losing to Bangladesh there were apparently attempts made to straighten out kinks in the cricketers’ ‘auras’, to rid them of ‘negative energies’. In keeping with the principles of pranic healing, the men in blue stood around a bowl of water where their bad vibes were flung in; they even tried collective prayer. It worked against Bermuda, but the gods needed more appeasement against Lanka. Okay, what the hell, let’s be harsh: maybe what cricketing deities really wanted, guys, was more fight with the bat, ball, more signs of spirit and sweat on the field.There’s a view that Dravid and Chappell should continue while four ‘difficult’ senior players must go.But why? Captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell have said it repeatedly: “We didn’t play well. Yes, but why not? Here comes Indian cricket’s now de rigueur fig leaf, hastily put into place after every big loss: our system stinks, you see. On the surface of it, a soothing explanation: the Indian team has no permanent manager, no media manager, no medical back up at home, its itinerary is far too crowded, selection is a minefield, players have not been paid their dues for more than half a year. Words that matterSir Vivan Richards “Your team has a lot of ability, but lacks mental strength. They are babies in the mind.” SIR VIVIAN RICHARDS WEST INDIAN CRICKET LEGENDJohn Buchanan “India is one of the excitement machines that heighten competition. As a coach I’m glad they are not here.” JOHN BUCHANAN COACH, AUSTRALIAN TEAMDilip Vengsarkar “Every debacle has a silver lining. We have a young team and I have tremendous faith in them despite everything.”DILIP VENGSARKAR CHAIRMAN, SELECTION COMMITTEEIan Bishop “I did not feel from what I saw with India last year that I fancied them doing well away from home.” IAN BISHOP FORMER FAST BOWLER, WEST INDIESadvertisementSharad Pawar “Even England, where cricket originated, has not won the Cup but their players didn’t face mindless protests.” SHARAD PAWAR PRESIDENT, BCCIRichie Richardson “India had the best batting line up. We wanted India to go a little bit further. I can’t work out what went wrong.”RICHIE RICHARDSON FORMER CAPTAIN, WEST INDIESBut the system is merely the backdrop; it is not central to the plot of why India’s team bombed in the World Cup. India bombed because they didn’t hit the ground running. Dravid believes the 2003 format gave teams time to hit their stride unlike in 2007. Four years ago, despite putting up their best impersonation of struggling fish on a line of hooks, once the Cup began, India beat the teams they were expected to beat, losing only to Australia.In the last 11 months, India’s batsmen have failed to bat out a full 50 overs in 12 of 17 ODIs outside home. They have won only three of those, beating West Indies twice and Bermuda once. Bishop saw it coming. He didn’t rank India amongst his pick of four potential semi-finalists before the event: “I didn’t feel from what I saw with India last year in the West Indies, Malaysia, Champions Trophy and South Africa that I fancied them doing well away from home.” Former Sri Lankan wicket-keeper Ranjit Fernando stands back from making the linkage between systemic malaise and specific results. Whenever Sri Lanka loses, he says the same arguments are proffered. “What does a system have to do? At the very basic, produce three-four players a generation who can play for the country. Our systems-India’s, Sri Lanka’s- are far from perfect, but every generation, they produce those threefour players.”Between May 2006 and the West Indies World Cup, despite a notoriously fractious Board, Sri Lanka ensured that its team played all its ODIs away from home. The one tournament scheduled on the island was washed out. Of course, the BCCI needs to overhaul how they run domestic cricket and how they manage the Indian team. But does the BCCI’s blinkered inefficiency explain why India couldn’t dismiss Bermuda for less than 156 and take 43.1 overs to do it? Or, heck, why it lost to Bangladesh?Now what? Now is when the mills of Indian cricket begin to churn. Insiders say that the next man who takes over will have to start from scratch, which means the team is back to where they were just before 2000-splintered, insecure, on the edge. One distinct murmur emerging from team management centres round Sourav Ganguly’s low strike rate and the failure to rotate the strike in his three innings in the Cup. Another backed by the powerful in the BCCI, name Sachin Tendulkar as Dravid’s successor. A third point of view insists that the BCCI wants Chappell and Dravid to continue in their respective positions but the team needs to purge the ‘spoilers’-Ganguly, Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh.A player said, “I feel for Rahul, it’s hard when the team loses, even more so as captain. Rahul really tried to keep the team together, but it didn’t work out.” In the post-Lanka press conference, Dravid walked on the edge of composure, saying quickly that his tenure ended with the World Cup, so he was, in fact, no longer the captain. After an India defeat, Chappell had once produced this Zen-like epigram, “Nothing’s a disaster.” Specially called into the press conference, Chappell stonewalled questions with, “We just didn’t play well,” until an exasperated Caribbean journalist asked, “Coach, by saying that all the time, aren’t you trying to shirk responsibility?” Halfprotecting his own position, half-extending sympathy to his players, Chappell, who has aimed to coach and spread his gospel through the written press, tried to spread accountability and blame around, like it were marmalade on toast.advertisementWhat could rescue Dravid’s captaincy is the fact that there is no clear choice over his succession. Dravid understands and can internalise Chappell’s philosophies but their intellectual compatibility has not found resonance with the rest of the team. It may well be the players’ own weaknesses and inadequacies, but a cricket match is not a steeplechase race in which the captain can run alone. Everyone has to be pulled along, which the team of Dravid and Chappell have been unable to do.So Indian cricket has three choices: Plans A: Dravid and Chappell stay and four ‘difficult’ players go. Plan B: Chappell goes, Dravid stays and tries to reconnect with his squad and take another shot at the job with a coach who is more of a backroom worker and less of a ruckus-magnet. Plan C: Dravid and Chappell go as team leaders, India gets a new captain and the entire churning begins again.To many, Plan A might seem like the way forward: get rid of the old, the deadwood, start with the new. Going by the Dravid-Chappell record in man management, even if the selectors get rid of the spoilers, consistency or growth is not guaranteed. The players who the two men seem to prefer have either come undone (a la Irfan Pathan) or have been undercooked at the international level (Suresh Raina). This means one of them will have to go.At the moment, Dravid is far more valuable to the team than Chappell is; whether he is valuable as captain still or if he can rescue his leadership away from the looming presence of his first coach, is a call the selectors must take. What could rescue Dravid’s captaincy is the fact that his succession is not as clear cut as it could be. Dravid’s deputy and the front runner for the job, Tendulkar faces the wrath of public disappointment. Sehwag’s return to form is tenuous and the outsider Yuvraj Singh is seen as too callow. There is, of course, another man, who has done the job before with some success, but declared since that captaincy doesn’t excite him. Sourav Ganguly doesn’t smile much these days, but surely the thought enters his head: what goes around, comes around.