India, Pakistan renew rivalry years after Mumbai attacks
Four years after Pakistani gunmen laid siege to India's financial capital of Mumbai, South Asia's bitter rivals were meeting again on the cricket ground, marking a gradual thaw in their decades-old rivalry.
The first bilateral series between India and Pakistan since November 2007, comprising two Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals, began Christmas Day with a Twenty20 match in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Pakistan won the match with five wickets to spare after India's batting collapsed at 133 for nine.
Thousands of cricket fans began lining up outside Bangalore's massive Chinnaswamy Stadium nearly five hours before the match was to begin.
"This match is like no other. There's a special thrill to a match where India faces Pakistan," said Ravinder Singh, his loyalties evident from the Indian flag colors painted on his cheeks.
"I'm telling my friends it will be worth the wait," said Singh, a college student, as he stood in a slow-moving line outside the stadium. Some of his friends were in the sky blue shirts of the Indian team.
Security was tight with thousands of paramilitary soldiers and police outside the stadium. Groups of police carried out body searches before allowing fans into the stadium after they had gone through metal detectors.
Unflustered by the tight security, cricket fans carried flags and pro-India banners while a few sported colorful wigs and face-paint.
Analysts see the cricket series as a sign the two sides are ready to move past the bitterness that followed the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, when 10 Pakistan-based gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day rampage across the city.
India blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group for the attacks and demanded that Islamabad crack down on terrorism.
Despite a long history of mutual distrust and animosity, the love of cricket — bequeathed to India and Pakistan by South Asia's British colonial rulers — is one of the few things the countries agree upon.
Relations have improved since the Mumbai attacks and diplomatic ties have been renewed, but New Delhi remains unsatisfied with the slow pace of Islamabad's efforts to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.
Analysts caution that policy makers in India should not get carried away by the friendly neighbor rhetoric.
"All forms of people-to-people contact, including sports, are important and should be pursued, but never at the cost of our main focus, which is terrorism emanating from Pakistan," said Vivek Katju, a retired diplomat who has served in Pakistan and was India's ambassador in Afghanistan.
Across the border, Pakistani analysts feel that while the resumption of sporting contact is welcome, the two can make real progress only when they succeed in resolving their long-standing disputes.
Rasool Bakhsh Rais, a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan, said sports could be a "major avenue through which hostilities between the two nations could be set aside."
Former Rangers owner Corbett dies
Brad Corbett, who owned the Texas Rangers from 1974 to 1980 and wasn't afraid to regularly switch out managers, died on Christmas Eve. He was 75. Corbett's daughter, Pamela Corbett Murrin, said her father died peacefully in his sleep on Monday. She said he had not been sick recently. "The Texas Rangers are saddened to hear of the death of Brad Corbett," the team said in a statement. "His tenure as owner was marked by a passion and drive to bring a winning team to the fans of North Texas." At Corbett's helm, the team had six managers in six years — four in the 1977 season alone. An article on the Rangers' website also said the team had its first four winning seasons under Corbett and finished second in the AL West three times.
Andruw Jones arrested for battery
Jail records show that former Atlanta Braves star center fielder Andruw Jones is free on bond after being arrested in suburban Atlanta on a battery charge. Gwinnett County Detention Center records say Jones was booked into the county jail around 3:45 a.m. Tuesday and had been released on $2,400 bond by 11 a.m. No one was available at the Gwinnett County sheriff's office to give details about the circumstances surrounding his Christmas Day arrest.
Once one of the premier players in the big leagues, Jones broke into the majors with the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1998-07 as their center fielder. He has 434 career home runs over 17 seasons in the majors.
Jones signed a $3.5 million, one-year contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League earlier this month.
Nadal's comeback slowed by bug
Rafael Nadal's return to competition has been delayed by a stomach virus. The Spaniard was scheduled to play in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on Thursday after missing seven months because of tendinitis in his left knee. But he said on his Facebook page on Tuesday that his doctors ordered him to pull out when he was running a fever, telling him his body needed rest. "My rehab has gone well, my knee feels good and I was looking forward to competing," he said. The 11-time Grand Slam champion hasn't played since June, when he lost to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon.
Mississippi wins in Hawaii tourney
Murphy Holloway scored 18 points and Mississippi pulled away in the final minutes to defeat Hawaii 81-66 in the fifth-place game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Tuesday. After trading baskets with Hawaii for most of the second half, and with the score tied at 63, the Rebels (10-2) ended the game on an 18-3 run. Vander Joaquim led Hawaii (6-5) with 29 points and 15 rebounds.
The last word
New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan hasn't exactly been forthcoming with the media about reasons for Tim Tebow's lack of playing time at quarterback. When told he is now viewed as someone who refuses to give straight answers, Ryan said:
"Well, have I lied about anything?"