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Sayyed Iqbal Abdulla migrated to Mumbai from Azamgarh at the age of 17 because of a dream of making it big in cricket. Though the initial period was a struggle, but four years and as many Indian Premier League seasons later he’s realized it.

A stellar performance in the recently concluded Twenty20 extravaganza saw the 21 year old being named ‘Rising star of IPL4’. Competing with the best in the business, the left arm spinner, a virtual bench warmer for Kolkata Knight Riders in the first three editions, showed his true caliber, picking 16 wickets from 15 matches.

Abdulla was one of the stars of India’s Under 19 World Cup winning team of 2008 his 10 wicket haul playing a major role in the triumph. Thanks to that showing, he was included in the team for the Under 19 ODI tri series in Sri Lanka, where he finished the third highest wicket taker.

In a freewheeling interview with Special Correspondent Manu Shankar, the youngster speaks about his IPL journey and aspirations.

You were one of the stars of IPL 4. Tell us about your journey in the tournament.

To start with, I was very happy that there was no specialist spinner with Kolkata Knight Riders. Thus, I had better chances of playing this season. The last three seasons I got very few matches to play, so this time around I was hungry to perform. Coach Dave Whatmore and skipper Gautam Gambhir gave me confidence at the start, saying I would get to play more games; so I was raring to go!Despite not getting many matches the last three seasons you decided to stay with KKR. Why?

I had a word with the coach before the start of the season and he said that they are not going in for any spinner, which improved my chances of playing. And when [Murali] Kartik was picked by Pune Warriors, I decided to stay back. Though they didn’t commit on me playing in every match, they did say that I would get more games.

How different was this season’s KKR squad from that of previous editions? There were some big names in the team.

All those who came in were matured cricketers, world class players. Players like [Jacques] Kallis, [Brett] Lee, [Gautam] Gambhir, all brought in lot of experience. There was hunger in the team to do well. We never talked about the past or future. We only talked about the present case scenario. I guess, that’s why we did well this season.

Besides the international stars, we also had a wealth of Indian domestic players, like Yusuf Pathan, with whom I used to spend most of my time. I used to bowl to him in the nets and constantly ask for his advice like where to bowl,
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the angles etc. He used to try and hit me out of the park and I would try my best to outsmart him.

How was the experience of opening the attack? Was it something you practiced in domestic cricket?

I have opened the bowling in the shorter version quite regularly. I’ve played a lot of T20s for DY Patil, where I shared the new ball with a pacer. Besides, if you have to make your way into the team you have bowl in all situations. It’s about the captain’s confidence.

How do you plan your bowling against a big hitter, someone like MS Dhoni or Kieron Pollard?

Spin doesn’t mean that it’s easy to hit a bowler out of the park. A player gains a reputation only when he bats sensibly. If he goes after your bowling, invariably, you stand a better chance of getting him out. Like Sachin [Tendulkar] Sir; he doesn’t go after all the balls; he punishes the bad ball. Your take on that

Domestic cricket is very important, because that’s the base. I would say domestic cricket is tough, as you have the best of players coming in to compete. Everyone is keen to make a place for themselves. So the level increases as you play the Deodhar Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Boards President’s, India ‘A’ etc. So there is pressure in domestic circuit as well.

All the Indian players playing in the IPL have excelled in the domestic circuit. You get more matches if you keep performing.

The IPL has transformed my life; it brought me into the limelight and helped me financially, too.

The IPL had amazing spinners, like Shane Warne, who played his last season. What did you learn from such spinners?

It’s great to see a legend performing; someone who has lived cricket to the fullest. But I follow Daniel Vettori, as being a left armer you get to learn a lot from him. I watch his videos, talk to him. You can gain a lot from that.

Disappointed not to be in the West Indies?

Not really. Selection matters are not in my hands. All I have to do is keep performing and play more and more matches. In between, I’ve also been working on my batting; I try my best to perform as an all rounder. I don’t get bogged down by these selection issues; my part is to keep doing better and better.

There is a lack of genuine left arm spinners in the country. Besides Pragyan Ojha there aren’t any specialist left armers on the radar. Any particular reason?

There is talent. I keep interacting with [former India spinner] Maninder Singh. He gives me tips during a cricket camp. He specially came for a Ranji match and it felt good that a senior left arm spinner was there to watch you play and offer you tips.

As for your question on lack of left arm spinners, Inshaalla, who kami ab poori ho jaayegi (by God’s grace, that dearth will end soon).
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box office over the Friday Sunday weekend.

“Straight Outta Compton” took in $8.9 million at 3,094 locations in its fourth weekend, ending its impressive three week winning streak at domestic multiplexes. The title should add another $2.3 million on Monday to cross the $150 million milestone, representing another triumph for Universal in a stellar 2015.

Sony/Affirm’s “War Room” has continued to exceed projections following its surprisingly robust opening weekend, when it took in $11.4 million. The film, playing at 1,526 sites, is on track for a four day Labour Day weekend haul of $12.3 million, bringing its 11 day total to $27.6 million. Stallings and Karen Abercrombie and was directed by Alex Kendrick. last year.

“It’s clearly a movie that’s resonating with under served audiences that are usually left out of the conversation,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak.

The holiday weekend appears to be the quietest of the year, which will be first of 2015 without a title topping the $10 million mark over the three day period.

Robert Redford’s comedy “A Walk in the Woods” led the rest of the pack with $8.1 million at 1,960 sites and was projected to tack on $2.2 million on Monday. That’s a decent performance for the first wide release from year old Broad Green Pictures, the ambitious studio launched by brothers Gabriel and Daniel Hammond.

Paramount’s sixth weekend of “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation” and EuropaCorp’s launch of “The Transporter Refueled” were battling for fourth place. The fifth “Mission: Impossible” took in $7.2 million at 2,849 locations for the three days and was projected to add $2.1 million on Labor Day to boost its domestic total to $182.5 million.
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You could never call her a neglected orforgotten actress.

Many veteran filmmakers and actors Raj Kapoor, Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, and more called upon Padmini, who made New Jersey her home for nearly three decades until her recent return to Chennai, whenever they were in New York. And often, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, she would be asked by some of the best known directors including Hrishikesh Mukherjee (who directed her opposite Raj Kapoor in Aashiq) if she could do a significant character role in their films.

“I don’t feel a compelling urge to go back and resume my career,” the actress had told me 25 years ago, weighing her career options following the death of her husband, physician KT Ramachandran. “I have done practically everything an actress wants to do, I have played all kinds of roles. I have even played a man!” She was referring to her role as a street performer in Mera Naam Joker, befriended by a down and out loser (Raj Kapoor) who realises, in a scene that shocked many, that his new friend is indeed a woman.

“And I have also worked with some of the best actors and actresses, and for some of India’s best known directors,” she continued.

“I think I am doing something very interesting here,” she said, looking at over a dozen children practicing their Bharata Natyam steps. “I just cannot leave them and go back to India.”

“When they are done, I am sure there are going to be more students,” she continued, adding that she was not merely teaching them the grammar and steps of classical dancing. “I also get them to find out about Indian culture, religions, and spirituality.”

Padmini, who had only one child, a son, started her dance school at the basement of the Hindu Temple in Flushing, New York and moved it to her home some 30 miles away in New Jersey. “I forget how many children I have,” she would joke, adding she felt she blessed she could train dozens of children month after month. The Padmini School of Fine Arts, started in 1977, was the first major Indian classical dancing school in America.

A trained Bharata Natyam dancer, she was proud of teaching the art to second generation Indian Americans. “You watch them dance, and you cannot believe they were raised in America,” she added.

While a modest lifestyle ensured she was not afraid of financial constraints, she was certainly afraid of death. Her older sister Ragini and younger sister Lalita, both actresses, had succumbed to cancer midlife. The three were famous as the Travancore Sisters.

“When it is time to go, I know you just cannot do anything,” she had said. “But I pray that at least I am active till my last breath.” Though she had a number of ailments including diabetes, she remained feisty, and often amazed people with her anecdotes going back to the earliest years of her career in the 1950s.

Her co stars included Raj Kapoor (who directed her in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain and Mera Naam Joker), Shammi Kapoor (in Singapore, directed by Shakti Samanta), Sanjeev Kumar (Chanda Aur Bijli), Ashok Kumar (Kalpana, which also featured her sister Ragini), Sivaji Ganesan (Tillana Moganaambal), MG Ramachandran (Madurai Veeran), A Nageshwara Rao (in Laila Majnu, her first major film, 1949), Nargis (Pardesi, an Indo Russian production directed by KA Abbas), Vyjayanthimala (Bahar) and Bhanumati (Laila Majnu).

Along with Vyjayanthimala and Waheeda Rehman, Padmini paved the way for South Indian actresses such as B Saroja Devi, Jayaprada and Sridevi to play major roles in Hindi films. She still had a few regrets, however. She would have liked to be in a few art films, she confessed. “It would be very tempting to do even a small role in a Satyajit Ray film.”

She did get to do an art film, Vasthuhara directed by G Aravindan (Oridathu, Thampu) in 1991. It was among half a dozen films she did after she settled down. “Sometimes the old habits just won’t die,” she said in another interview. “I get tempted to do a small part in a film now and then. But I am not going to stage a comeback. ”

Working in a brief role in the Aravindan film was something special to Padmini who spoke Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada, and acted in movies made in each of those five languages. The Aravindan directed film was in Malayalam, the mother tongue of the actress born near Thiruvananthapuram. She was the daughter of Thankappan Pillai, a landlord, and Saraswathi Amma, a homemaker.

Her parents were not too happy with the sisters working in films, Padmini had said. “But when they saw we were getting a lot of acclaim, they were happy,” she added. “And none of us ever embarrassed them.”

Many interviewers asked her from time to time about the erotic dances and scenes she did for the Raj Kapoor films, especially Mera Naam Joker.

“What I did is for everyone to see, I will never be embarrassed by it,” she said. “I did those scenes at the height of my career. It wasn’t anything like a struggling actress doing those scenes. I firmly believe those scenes were crucial to the films.”.
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Old Clear Creek Road, Fuji Park, and Fairgrounds

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‘We can see kids wearing a Barcelona or Spain jersey.

Scott O’Donnell, the All India Football Federation’s technical director, is enjoying the fruits of the grassroots programme he insisted on when he came to the country over three years ago.

The Australian, who started off at the AIFF as an academy instructor in 2011, quickly impressed federation bosses and was elevated to the role of Director, Coach Education in India.

Today, the 46 year old trains coaches at the AIFF’s academies and helps them spot talent.

You have been in India for the last three years. Do you see any change in India’s football?

We have five academies where boys are training full time. We have Indian coaches working with them.

The AIFF has a grassroots programme going into six decks now.

I cannot say Indian football has changed, but all these things add to a positive change.

You emphasise a lot on grassroots. Are you satisfied with the progress at that level?

We are not going to see the benefits of the academies and the grassroots programmes for 10 to 15 years.

If we get players from the 6 to 12 years age group, the state bodies will have a data base of the players.

It allows us to register players so that we can identify the talented ones. The states will know their best players because they would have gone through the grassroots programme.

Are you satisfied with the regional academies’ performance?

There is always room for improvement. Things could always be better, but, for now, I am satisfied.

Certainly, there are winds of change blowing in Indian football.

India has lagged behind, and what we are doing now is what all the countries have done years ago.

Right now we are just trying to keep pace.

We need to convince people that the future of Indian football is the grassroots boys.

There will be a bigger talent pool which will identify the best through the system.

How is the preparation going on for the Under 17 World Cup in 2017?

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(CNN) Forget the burned jerseys. Never mind The Letter. LeBron James won titles in Miami but his heart was in Cleveland, and he’s ready to go home.

James told Sports Illustrated for an essay published Friday that he’ll leave the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers a sensational return to his home region that he devastated when he left via free agency in 2010.

“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there,” the four time NBA MVP said in a piece he wrote with SI’s Lee Jenkins. “I just didn’t know when.”

“I looked at other teams,” the 29 year old wrote, “but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

Numerous reports say that the maximum salary in the first year of a contract for an 11 year NBA veteran, like James, is $20.64 million, though there are exceptions.

His move marks the end of a four year partnership with stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami a run that saw James get his first two NBA titles.

But the return to the Cavaliers, which drafted James in 2003, allows the prodigal son and his native community to reconnect after a separation that shook both. The lakeside city that is long starved for a professional sports championship embraced him Friday.

How James is going to make $1 billion

Fans drove past his Cleveland area home and honked horns after the news spread. Patrons at a restaurant gushed when a reporter asked what they thought of the move.

“LBJ’s coming home! Can’t wait! Championship!” a man told CNN affiliate WEWS.

“Cleveland fans are trying to figure out how to unburn their LeBron jerseys,” Twitter user nic_johnston44 wrote.

Pat Riley, the Heat president who lured James away in 2010, said Friday that although he was disappointed, “no one can fault another person for wanting to return home.”

“The last four years have been an incredible run for South Florida, Heat fans, our organization and for all of the players who were a part of it. LeBron is a fantastic leader, athlete, teammate and person, and we are all sorry to see him go,” Riley said.

What about The Letter? “We’ve talked it out”

In 2010, James and marquee free agent Bosh left their teams to join Wade in Miami with James, looking for NBA championships, famously announcing his move in an ESPN special called “The Decision.”

After reaching four straight NBA finals with Miami, James exercised his contract option this summer to become a free agent two years early.

James was a Cleveland hero, growing up some 45 miles away in Akron and starring seven years with the Cavs. But his 2010 departure and the way he did it, telling ESPN that he was “taking my talents to South Beach” rankled the people of Cleveland, with fans burning James jerseys and stomping on his likeness.

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If those fans torched the figurative bridge, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert vaporized it with a scathing letter blasting James’ “cowardly betrayal” and, in a forecast that didn’t quite pan out, promising that the Cavs would win an NBA title “before the self titled former ‘king’ wins one.”

How could James return to the team after that?

“I’ve met with Dan, face to face, man to man. We’ve talked it out,” the Sports Illustrated story reads. “Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?

He also addressed Cleveland fans’ negative reaction to his Miami move.

“It was easy to say, ‘OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.’ But then you think about the other side,” he wrote. “What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react?”

So he felt OK to return to Cleveland, where he feels he has unfinished business. In his first Cavs stint, he won two league MVP awards and went to the NBA finals once, but won no ring.

The interest was mutual, and the Cavaliers made their intentions known when they shipped off Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Tyler Zeller and a future first round draft pick to clear the salary cap space necessary to sign James.

James joins a Cavaliers team that has struggled, making no playoffs and picking first three times in the NBA draft since James’ departure. Those picks were two time All Star guard Kyrie Irving, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett and University of Kansas phenom Andrew Wiggins, all currently in Cleveland’s possession.

James: Miami was “almost like college”

In the SI piece, James said he’d still have left for Miami if he had to do it all over again. It could be described as the college experience that he never had.

“Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids,” James, who went pro straight out of high school, said in Sports Illustrated. “These past four years helped raise me into who I am.”
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