Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Explosive revelations from mastermind Sivarasan’s notes of the plot to kill former prime minister
Chinna Santhan an LTTE intelligence operative disguised as a Congress worker, greets Rajiv Gandhi minutes before a human bomb moved in and assassinated him. Santhan is one of the three accused sentenced to death in the case, whose sentence was commuted to life by the Supreme Court.In July 1991, LTTE,Chinna Santhan an LTTE intelligence operative disguised as a Congress worker, greets Rajiv Gandhi minutes before a human bomb moved in and assassinated him. Santhan is one of the three accused sentenced to death in the case, whose sentence was commuted to life by the Supreme Court.In July 1991, LTTE intelligence operative Jayakumar let CBI’s Special Investigation Team in on a secret. The Sri Lankan Tamil, who was a suspect in the May 21, 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, told CBI’s chief investigator, K. Ragothaman, of a hole in the kitchen floor of a Tiger safe house in Chennai. Jayakumar, one of several men planted in safe houses in Tamil Nadu by LTTE’s intelligence wing in September 1990, didn’t know what was in the hole. But it was clearly very important because Sivarasan, 33, the key suspect, would frequently send him out of the room whenever he used it. The SIT, set up a day after the assassination, descended on the house on 158 Muthamil Nagar, Kodungaiyur, and ripped open the floor.Inside the damp three-foot deep trench, neatly cut under a two foot-by-two foot kitchen tile, was a thick Tamil-English dictionary with a cavity carved inside to conceal a 9 mm pistol. There were also two small pocket diaries, a notebook and a fake glass eye. At first, the tiny pages, scrawled in Tamil and English in Sivarasan’s distinctive forward-slanting running hand, didn’t seem to add up to much. It was a jumble of telephone numbers, addresses, contact persons, aliases, code names and payments.But each of these entries, when carefully analysed and followed up, fitted another piece into the jigsaw puzzle that had initially baffled CBI. The small notebooks were a key to unlock what became possibly the most intricate assassination plot of the 20th century. “The notebooks were our most important seizures. They showed us how Sivarasan was linked to the other co-accused,” says Ragothaman.advertisementSivarasan maintained these tiny notebooks from May 1, 1991, when he landed in Tamil Nadu leading a nine-member hit squad, right until May 23, two days after the assassination when he hid it and fled with his team to Bangalore, where he killed himself to avoid capture.The pages from these diaries have formed crucial court evidence to implicate the accused but have never been revealed before. The diaries were crucial in implicating all the seven persons accused of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination-Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Robert Payas-now at the centre of a bitter political stand-off between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and the Central Government. On February 24, the Centre moved the Supreme Court against her February 18 decision to set them free. “We will do whatever is necessary legally,” Jayalalithaa said on how she proposed to respond to the Centre’s plea to stall the Rajiv killers’ release. A cryptic promise of a long tussle that will last at least until the Lok Sabha polls in May.Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991, on the eve of the Lok Sabha election that he fought with Jayalalithaa as an ally, remains India’s most sensational political murder. The idea was born in the mind of the battle-scarred Tamil Tigers’ leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, who emerged from the jungles of Sri Lanka in early 1990. Prabhakaran wanted revenge. The Indian Army’s controversial three-year deployment in the island nation to enforce the July 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord had ended. The Army had fought against LTTE, ironically a group trained by India’s external intelligence agency RAW. The Tamil Tigers had lost hundreds of cadre and Prabhakaran himself had come close to being killed by the Army at least once.Tiger treacheryNow, it was time for vengeance. The prime minister, who Prabhakaran felt had betrayed him, was out of power and hence, at his most vulnerable. Almost straightaway, CBI investigators say, he embarked on his deadly plan. RAW, which still had ties to the Tigers, completely misread this simmering anger within the LTTE leadership.Prabhakaran and his intelligence chief Shanmugalingam Sivashankar, 29, aka ‘Pottu Amman’ identified three women suicide bombers from their Black Tiger suicide squad. They entrusted the plan to Sivarasan aka Pakiachandran. The swarthy, thick-set operative who stood only five feet four inches tall, was fluent in all south Indian languages and had lost his left eye in a 1987 firefight with Sri Lankan army. He had risen rapidly through the Tamil Tigers’ ranks following his June 1990 raid in Chennai to kill Padmanabha, leader of pro-India Tamil group Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front, and 13 of his associates. It was a classic intelligence-led operation where Tiger spies embedded in Chennai had zeroed in on Padmanabha. Now, Sivarasan was to not just steer a suicide bomber towards Rajiv Gandhi but also ensure that the assassination was never traced to the Tamil Tigers. It was what is known in intelligence terms as a ‘plausibly deniable operation’. Like the unsolved 1988 killing of Pakistan’s President Zia-ul-Haq in an airplane explosion, the blast would wipe away every trace of the crime or criminals.The LTTE leadership was alarmed by the Congress manifesto for the 1991 Lok Sabha polls which spoke of its commitment to the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan accord. Sivarasan and his hit squad landed in Tamil Nadu on May 1, 1991 and almost immediately set to work. Elections had been notified and would begin on May 20.A ‘wedding’ in Tamil NaduadvertisementRajiv Gandhi would almost certainly campaign in Tamil Nadu, where LTTE would strike. Two key people in Sivarasan’s squad were Dhanu, the suicide bomber, and Shubha, a back-up bomber. They were participants in ‘the wedding’, the Tigers’ code for the assassination. Sivarasan used a radio set and coded communications to stay in constant touch with the Tamil Tiger base in the jungles of Sri Lanka. LTTE cadres like Jayakumar and his brother-in-law Robert Payas had already rented homes in and around Chennai. Sivarasan frequently switched homes to avoid detection even as he looked for a chance to strike at the former prime minister. His coded transmissions frequently updated Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman on ‘wedding preparations’. The Tigers smuggled 5 kg gold into Tamil Nadu which Sivarasan sold for Rs 19.36 lakh. This money financed the entire operation: Hotel rent, payments to informants and the hit squad’s travel and living expenses for about two months. Sivarasan noted telephone numbers, reminders for crucial appointments with conspirators and payments made to them. His operatives got their first breakthrough when they gained access to the inner circle of the late Maragatham Chandrasekar, Congress parliamentarian from Sriperumbudur, a Lok Sabha constituency nearly 40 km north of Chennai, and a close family friend of the Gandhi family.The Delhi plotSivarasan also scrawled details of a second plot in his diaries. This was the LTTE’s back-up plan in case his suicide bombers missed Rajiv in Tamil Nadu. On April 28, Athirai, a slim, striking 18-year-old girl with a mop of curly hair, landed at the clandestine Tiger port of Kodiakarai in Tamil Nadu from Jaffna. She was escorted to a safe house in Chennai where she would wait for LTTE to roll out Plan B: To kill Rajiv Gandhi in his own backyard, New Delhi. Athirai had been chosen not for the irony of her LTTE name, Sonia, but apparently for her light skin that would allow her to blend with the crowd in New Delhi. Sivarasan had already recruited Kanagasabapathy, a retired Sri Lankan government servant, for this task. Kanagasabapathy, in his late 70s, was the father of a deceased LTTE commander.Now the most senior member of the plot travelled to Delhi and connected with an LTTE sympathiser associated with a prominent Tamil Nadu politician, MDMK chief Vaiko. The duo located a safe house in the Capital for their mission: House number A 233 in north Moti Bagh. LTTE identified it through a real estate broker in nearby Shanti Niketan. The two-room Central government quarter, illegally sublet by its allottee, offered the perfect cover. It was located in the sprawl of single-storey government accommodation in the heart of the national capital and was just eight km away from Rajiv Gandhi’s 10 Janpath home.Kanagasabapathy paid Rs 5,000 as advance to the broker. “My granddaughter will come and stay here in a few days,” he told the broker. Athirai, he said, wanted to study Hindi and computer applications in the Capital. Though Sivarasan had created a separate hit squad for the Delhi plot, he was confident of assassinating the former prime minister in Tamil Nadu. Pottu Amman favoured Delhi. “Why don’t we try Delhi?” he asked Sivarasan in a coded message in May 1991. “I am confident that I can do it here (in Tamil Nadu),” Sivarasan replied. But Pottu Amman overruled him and insisted he continue with the Delhi operation.advertisementThe Delhi plot was abandoned because the Tamil Tigers were successful in Sriperumbudur. Kanagasabapathy and Athirai were arrested from a hotel in Paharganj in June 1991 as they attempted to flee to Nepal. They were released in 1999 after an eight-year jail term because the Supreme Court did not link them to the Sriperumbudur plot. They migrated to Switzerland.The plot was left unfinished but it told the investigators of LTTE’s fanatical determination to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. “Once Prabhakaran gave the order to kill Rajiv,” says Ragothaman, “it was difficult for him to escape.”Attack in SriperumbudurOn May 21, the squad boarded a state transport bus to the venue of Rajiv Gandhi’s poll rally and gained access to the lightly-guarded venue. Sivarasan was disguised as a journalist in a white kurta-pyjama and carried a cloth bag over his shoulder and a notepad in his hand. Dhanu wore a loose-fitting green-and-orange salwar kameez. During the hour-long journey to Sriperumbudur, Nalini recoiled in horror when Dhanu asked her to feel what was under her clothes.There were no metal detectors and no frisking at the venue. Nalini was confident, articulate. A postgraduate in English, she worked as the personal assistant of an executive at a private firm in Chennai and had fallen in love with Murugan. She and Subha escorted the human bomb Dhanu.At twenty minutes past 10 p.m., Rajiv Gandhi walked down a red coir carpet laid at the temple grounds at Sriperumbudur. He was exhausted from a hectic campaigning tour across Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. He was welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters. Among them was Santhan, stubble-faced, in white and sporting Congress’ trademark tricolour around his neck. Dhanu garlanded Rajiv with a sandalwood necklace and bent down as if to touch his feet. She flicked a switch on the right side of her garment to trigger off half-kilo plastic explosives in her bomb jacket. The blast instantly killed Rajiv Gandhi as well as 17 others around him. In the melee, Sivarasan and his hit squad melted away. D.R. Karthikeyan, an IPS officer who led the SIT that eventually solved the case, calls it “cunning in conception, meticulous in planning and ruthless in execution”.A camera and diariesThe assassination would have gone off exactly as it had been planned but for one critical clue: Haribabu’s 35 mm Chinon camera. Haribabu, a photographer hired by Sivarasan, had died in the blast. His last photographs recovered by police revealed Sivarasan and the entire assassination squad. By July 1991, Karthikeyan’s sit had rounded up most of the key suspects. The chase culminated in a single-storeyed house in Konanakunte on the outskirts of Bangalore. It was surrounded but the entire LTTE assassination team killed themselves on August 19.Sivarasan had left his diaries in the Chennai safe house two days after the assassination, taking only the 9 mm pistol. He was confident of returning to reclaim the diaries. With commandos closing in, Sivarasan shot himself in the head with the pistol. The SIT also found a heap of ashes, burnt film negatives and documents. Many of these were step-by-step pictures of Dhanu wearing nothing but her lethal belt bomb. SIT examined 1,044 witnesses, more than 10,000 pages of witness statements, as many as 1,477 documents produced in court as evidence and 1,180 material objects produced in court during the trial which began in January 1994. Among them were Sivarasan’s diaries.Why would LTTE operatives leave behind a wealth of documentary evidence? SIT investigators point at LTTE’s obsessive need for propaganda and documentation of their struggle. It had a well-developed ‘Nitharsanam’ battlefield camera unit that filmed and photographed their cadres in action. “The group kept meticulous accounts of all their financial transactions and used the photographs for motivating their cadres,” Ragothaman says. It was this compulsive need for documentation that would unravel their deadly plot.The assassination also sealed Prabhakaran’s fate. It ended the use of Tamil Nadu as a Tiger sanctuary. In May 2009, LTTE cadres were encircled and its leadership, including Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman, destroyed by the Sri Lankan army. This happened even as India was busy with a Lok Sabha election. The surviving LTTE cadres had mingled among civilian refugees corralled into a shrinking no-fire zone in north-eastern Sri Lanka. Ironically, the fate of Prabhakaran’s surviving foot soldiers is poised to become an issue on the eve of another general election in India.Follow the writer on Twitter @SandeepUnnithanTo read more, get your copy of India Today here.
Proposed Liverpool kit deal with Nike worth less than current sponsors New Balanceby Ian Ferris25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool’s proposed new kit deal with US sportswear giant Nike is only worth a guaranteed UK£30 million (US$37 million) per year, according to High Court papers seen by the Times, reports, www.sportspromedia.com/.The figure is in stark contrast to the previously reported UK£70 million (US$86 million) per year figure for the Nike deal. Instead, this reported base figure is less than Liverpool’s existing UK£45 million (US$55 million) annual deal with New Balance, which is taking the club to court claiming a contract clause means it can match Nike’s terms.It is also less than the minimum UK£50 million (US$61 million) per year deals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have with Nike, as well as the UK£71 million per year agreement the brand struck with French champions PSG in June.However, Liverpool apparently believe Nike can deliver far greater total revenue for the club than has been generated by their deal with New Balance. This is reflected by a commitment from Nike in the proposed deal to pay the club a 20 per cent royalty on net sales of Liverpool products. It would also promote the club through other influential athletes, such as Serena Williams and LeBron James, and popular musicians associated with the company, including rapper Drake.In addition, the report says Nike will distribute a new kit through ‘6,000 global doors’, compared to New Balance’s 3,000.In response, New Balance believes it can meet demand for Liverpool kit, having delivered tow of the biggest selling home kits for fans. A three-day trial to settle the legal dispute has been listed from 18th October. TagsPremiership NewsAbout the authorIan FerrisShare the loveHave your say
zoomImage Courtesy: Kees Torn COSCO Shipping Lines confirmed that it has been hit by a cyber attack impacting its internet connection within its offices in America.As such, local email and network telephone were not working properly and the company decided to shut down the connections with other regions for further investigation.Based on the information released so far, the incident that took place on Tuesday, July 24, was described as a ransomware attack.The Chinese shipping and logistics company said that its vessels were not impacted and that its main business operation systems were performing stably. However, COSCO’s terminal at the Port of Long Beach was affected.“We are glad to inform you that we have taken effective measures. Except for above regions affected by the network problem, the business operation within all other regions will be recovered very soon. The business operations in the affected regions are still being carried out, and we are trying best to make a full and quick recovery. We will keep you updated of the latest progress through various channels,” the company said.The latest attack is a stark reminder of the ever growing threat from cyber attacks in the maritime world which ic becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology.Even though the impact was not as severe as the one experienced by Maersk Group in June 2017, companies are encouraged to boost their cyber security if they want to avoid the scenario that cost Maersk around USD 300 million.World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: Kees Torn/Flickr
zoomImage Courtesy: BW Group The shareholders of Hafnia Tankers have given the green light to the company’s proposed merger with BW Tankers, part of BW Group.The voting was held at last week’s extraordinary general meeting of the Denmark-based shipping company, held on Thursday, January 10.Under the merger agreement, signed in December 2018, BW Tankers intends to acquire Hafnia’s assets and liabilities, contracts, rights and obligations.It is proposed that Hafnia and BW Tankers Corp., a Marshall Island subsidiary of BW Tankers, shall merge under the laws of the Marshall Islands, with BW Tankers being the surviving entity.The shareholders of Hafnia will receive consideration for their Hafnia shares in the form of common shares of BW Tankers Limited.The merger agreement follows BW Group’s acquisition of an additional 36.3 pct stake in Hafnia Tankers back in July 2018, bringing the company’s total ownership stake in Hafnia to 43.5 pct.Hafnia said that the completion of the merger is expected to take place in January 2019, subject to certain conditions being fulfilled.The combined company will be one of the largest pure-play product tanker businesses in the world with a fleet of 86 vessels, including newbuilds and excluding sale and leaseback vessels.
Mark Jackson28.012.0-16.049.9 Landry Fields11.3-0.4-11.7Active Tyrus Thomas8.7-1.5-10.2Active Eddie Griffin10.9-0.3-11.20.0 Derrick Rose25.90.9-25.0Active LaPhonso Ellis19.83.8-16.13.3 Chris Paul54.537.3-17.1Active Darius Miles10.7-1.4-12.10.1 Sam Bowie21.02.7-18.311.2 Jay Vincent14.34.0-10.2-2.3 Andris Biedrins12.82.8-10.0-0.2 John Long6.6-3.0-9.6-1.1 Shaquille O’Neal46.034.8-11.2106.3 Phil Ford14.3-0.3-14.60.0 Kerry Kittles21.15.6-15.517.5 Norm Nixon20.98.0-12.83.4 David Thompson26.810.0-16.82.5 Ron Brewer10.4-1.6-12.0-4.8 Willie Anderson17.15.7-11.53.7 Dudley Bradley12.01.1-10.97.0 WAR, AGES 24-26WAR, AGE 27+ Reggie King16.76.4-10.3-0.7 Eric Money8.2-1.9-10.10.0 Clark Kellogg20.91.1-19.80.0 Tyrone Nesby15.71.0-14.70.0 Bill Garnett11.20.9-10.30.0 Rajon Rondo25.415.1-10.3Active Rik Smits12.71.9-10.823.9 PLAYERPREDICTEDACTUALDIFF Brevin Knight19.14.8-14.310.2 Back in March 2011, I wrote a column for The New York Times about how, statistically speaking, Derrick Rose didn’t deserve to win the NBA’s MVP award over Chris Paul (and others).The reaction from Chicago Bulls fans was — how can I put this? — not positive. But in the process of researching Rose and watching him closely, I grew to appreciate him more and more as a player, to the point that he became one of my favorite players to watch in all of basketball.1I even had a framed photograph of him on the wall of my old office at Sports Reference. In other words, sometimes contemptuous feedback breeds familiarity with — and even fondness for — a player. (I confess that a similar phenomenon is taking place for me now, with Andrew Wiggins.)That’s why it was so disheartening to see Rose suffer yet another devastating injury Tuesday night, this time a torn meniscus in the same knee that he injured early in the 2013-14 season. While the severity is still unknown, as is the course of action that Rose’s doctors will pursue, this latest setback could be Rose’s fourth season-ending injury in as many seasons. It’s a string of bad breaks that shouldn’t befall any athlete, much less one who ranked among his sport’s most exciting before injuries struck.Purely from a basketball perspective, the Bulls are probably more equipped to handle Rose’s absence now than at any point in the past four years. While Rose’s season started with promise, his play has largely been uneven; for the year, he ranks 33rd among point guards in Real Plus-Minus and 165th overall.2He ranked 20th overall during his best season, 2011-12.The bigger question concerns whether Rose can overcome another misfortune to contribute meaningfully in the future. And in that regard, he’s in uncharted territory by the standards of NBA history.Through age 233For all ages in this post, I’m referring to Basketball-Reference.com’s convention of listing a player’s age on Feb. 1 of the season in question. (for Rose, the 2011-12 season), the Bulls guard had generated 26.1 wins above replacement (WAR), a total that ranks 32nd among all NBA players since the 1977 ABA-NBA merger. For comparison’s sake, LeBron James is the 23-and-under leader over that span, with 82.2 WAR. But plenty of great players — from Adrian Dantley to Shawn Kemp and Shareef Abdur-Rahim — also had fewer WAR than Rose through the same age.Based on his average yearly performance through age 23,4Adjusted for aging effects. it would have been fair to expect about 26 more WAR from Rose between the ages of 24 and 26.5Using a historical regression between average age-adjusted WAR per year through age 23 and total WAR between the ages of 24 and 26. However, Rose produced just 0.9 WAR between his lost 2012-13 and the current 2014-15 season. Through no fault of Rose’s own, that 25 WAR shortfall was the largest of any player in the sample I examined, a tangible measure of just how much was lost over the past three years. Eric Gordon11.72.0-9.7Active And Rose’s peers at the top of the shortfall list show what uncharted comeback territory he’s in. Big man Sam Bowie, now known mostly for being drafted one pick ahead of Michael Jordan, returned to post 11.2 WAR after missing his entire age-26 season with a stress fracture but wasn’t anywhere near as effective as he’d been in his first two seasons. And Bowie is the success story of the group.Clark Kellogg undershot his projected age 24-26 WAR by 19.8, retiring four games into his age-25 season after a trio of knee surgeries. David Thompson’s issues with injuries and substance abuse caused him to undershoot his expected age 24-26 WAR by 16.8 and then generate only 2.5 WAR from age 27 onward. John “Hot Plate” Williams succumbed to injuries and struggled to control his weight, producing -0.8 WAR after age 26. And LaPhonso Ellis was never the same player following a knee injury suffered early in his age-24 season.Most of these cautionary tales are at most only tangentially similar to Rose’s injury travails, but they do underscore just how rare it is for a player to return to productivity after a spell of lost prime seasons, even if — like Rose — they’d shown tremendous promise as young players. John Williams18.31.8-16.4-0.8
Michigan State quarterback Tyler O’Connor passes the ball during the Spartans game against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 20, 2014. The Spartans beat the Eagles 73-14. Credit: Courtesy of TNSTell me if you heard this before. The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans do battle with one hoping to continue its push towards a national championship. This seems to be the theme when OSU coach Urban Meyer meets Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio late in the season.Despite Sparty’s 3-7 overall and 1-6 Big Ten record, the motif of win-or-go-home motivates the No. 2 Buckeyes in the heart of the College Football Playoff discussion.The back-and-forth blows by the Scarlet and Gray and the Green and White have built the matchup as one of the year’s most anticipated games each season. For the past three years, the winner of the Big Ten battle has altered college football’s national landscape.In 2015, one celebratory windmill at a time, Michigan State then-junior kicker Michael Geiger triggered tears in the eyes of OSU fans after hitting the game-winning field goal as time expired. This year OSU finds itself in the same spot, but determined to keep its season alive.“(We) just want to beat Michigan State,” Meyer said. “It means a lot.”OffenseThe Spartans offense has a much different look in 2016 than it did a season ago. No Connor Cook under center, no Aaron Burbridge or Macgarrett Kings at wide receiver and no Jack Conklin on the esteemed offensive line highlight the amount of talent that departed from an offense that returned just four starters.Senior quarterback Tyler O’Connor — a name that might be familiar to Ohio State — is the starter. O’Connor played for the injured Cook last season against OSU and controlled the offense enough to dethrone the Buckeyes from the undefeated ranks and destroy OSU’s chance at a second straight national title.This year, O’Connor hasn’t lit up the stat sheet, but he remains in the top half of the Big Ten in passing efficiency. The senior from Lima, Ohio, is completing more than 61 percent of his passes, but averages less than 200 yards passing per game. His favorite target is senior wide receiver R.J. Shelton. The Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, native has reeled in 47 passes this season for 710 yards and five touchdowns. He averages just under five receptions per game and is averaging more than 15 yards per catch. Shelton is O’Connor’s most targeted wide receiver on passes 20 yards or more.“As a coach, there’s always concern,” said co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. “When you put the tape on and I watch (Michigan State’s) explosive play reel and it’s 30 plays of passes alone, you’re talking three explosives a game. If that happens to you, that could be 21 points.”In the running game, another Ohio native, L.J. Scott from Hubbard, leads the Spartan backfield with 775 yards and five touchdowns. Statistically, the Spartans rank 67th in the nation in total offense, which plays right into the hands of OSU, which is ranked third in the nation in scoring defense.“They go deep into their roster and got some outstanding football players,” Dantonio said on Tuesday regarding OSU’s defense. “They run and tackle very effectively.”DefenseOSU had its single worst offensive output with Meyer on the sidelines last season against Michigan State. OSU gained just 132 total yards in an abysmal performance that caused former running back Ezekiel Elliott to call out the coaching staff for only getting 12 carries, just four in the second half. However, to credit Michigan State, the Spartans’ front seven always present a physical challenge to the Buckeyes.“Even when we won 49-37 two years ago, you walk away from that game saying, ‘wow, that was physical,’” said redshirt junior guard Billy Price. “You have to respect those guys. They’re cut from the same fabric we are.”The biggest departure from the 2015 Michigan State defense that won the Big Ten was three-time, second-team All-American Shilique Calhoun. Now playing for the Oakland Raiders, Calhoun had been an integral part of a defense that made it difficult on Price and the rest of the offensive line.However, junior defensive lineman Malik McDowell is still on the Spartans’ defensive front, and requires a great deal of attention from opposing teams. McDowell sat out last week’s game with an injury and Dantonio said that either McDowell will either be starting or won’t play on Saturday.The Spartans rank sixth in the Big Ten and 30th in the country in total defense. Junior linebacker Chris Frey leads their defense with 81 tackles and will play with a chip on his shoulder, having grown up down the street from OSU in Upper Arlington.OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett said that to have success against the Spartans this year, the offense will need to pick up yardage on first and second downs.“First down, (we) weren’t getting positive yardage and were playing behind the chains and weren’t able to get in rhythm,” he said.Barrett’s breakout game came against Michigan State in 2014 when he threw for 300 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns. He said the preparation for that game enabled his success.“I think we were playing well as a team and we knew we were the underdogs in that game so we wanted to come out, play hard for each other and it came to be a good game for us, especially offensively,” Barrett said.BreakdownThe 2016 Spartans have been the biggest bust in the Big Ten this season. They started the conference season ranked in the top 10 and quickly plummeted down the rankings with seven consecutive losses.Despite all that, Meyer sees a team that is still capable of pulling off a colossal upset.“(They’re) extremely dangerous,” Meyer said. “As well-coached as any team in the country.”Barrett and the offense are playing at a very high level at the right time of the season and are going into East Lansing with a lot of confidence. OSU scored 60-plus points in two straight games for the first time since 1996. On paper, Ohio State should dominate the game on both sides of the ball. If history says anything about the two teams, the game will be decided in the late stages of the game. However, expect OSU to roll through this one pretty handily.Score: Ohio State 41-16
Now that the regular-season conference title is out of the way, the Buckeyes are squared on winning this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament, which could garner them March Madness’ top overall seed. But a lot can happen during the intense championship week when teams across the country make their final case to hear their names called on Selection Sunday. Ohio State won’t have to worry about whether its name will be called, but when. Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com told The Lantern the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed is the Buckeyes’ to lose, and other teams in contention will need improbable help in the form of an OSU loss. “Anyone else who thinks they can (get the No. 1 overall seed),” Palm said, “is going to have to wait until somebody beats Ohio State.” OSU coach Thad Matta said he enjoys this time of year because he’s been able to learn so much about his team during the conference tournament. He mentioned that having recent Sunday games followed by quick turnarounds early in the next week has helped the Buckeyes prepare for the NCAA Tournament. “We (coaches) talk about it, not with the guys,” Matta said. “We haven’t discussed the NCAA Tournament with them, but I’m sure they watched TV.” Fifth-year senior forward David Lighty is no stranger to basketball in March and is looking for a repeat performance of last year’s Big Ten Tournament, where he earned All-Tournament honors and helped the Buckeyes win the conference title. “I think if we play like we’ve been playing the last five or six games it’s going to be pretty hard to beat us,” Lighty said. “Like coach said, just going in there and being focused, having our minds right to go in there and attack.”
Rangers Football Club manager Steven Gerrard has defended some of his player’s actions so far this season so far.The Gers have picked more than three red cards in the current campaign with striker Alfredo Morelos picking up two of them.The former Liverpool captain has now come to the defence of the Colombia international as well as defender Jon Flanagan after the pair were sent off during Thursday’s UEFA Europa League tie against FC Ufa in Russia.Gerrard who picked up eight red cards during his play game career with both England and Liverpool with four of those coming against rivals Everton and Manchester United, admits he became more hyped up as rivalry games neared and that on not all occasions was that channelled appropriately.“The Man United one is unexplainable. I was only on for about 43 seconds. But I think that sending off had been coming since the Thursday, to be honest! Ever since I found out I wasn’t going to start.” Gerrard said, according to Daily Mail.Owen reveals why Liverpool didn’t offer Gerrard a new contract Manuel R. Medina – September 6, 2019 According to Owen, the Reds wanted to sell Gerrard two years before he left the club and that’s why they didn’t offer him a contract renewal.“I was a player who played on emotion and that’s where I felt my best performances – all the performances people speak about – came from. But sometimes I got the balance wrong.”“I’m human, my players are human and they’ll get it wrong sometimes. I can accept that. What we can’t accept is it happening a lot. Because then the players in the dressing room think we can have this all the time.”“The job is difficult enough and they start getting frustrated as well as the manager, After an exhausting nine-man effort for nearly half an hour in between 2,500 mile treks to and from Bashkortostan, Rangers can ill afford to be at a personnel disadvantage at Celtic today.”Gerrard added: “It is difficult but the players have to be responsible for judging it. We want them to be tough and to go into challenges but we hope they get the balance right.”
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri wants a solution on Eden Hazard’s future now, amid the constant speculation linking him with a switch to Real MadridThe Belgian winger is yet to commit his long-term future at Stamford Bridge with his contract set to expire in June 2020.This has prompted reports of a transfer to Real with Hazard doing little to deny the rumours by claiming it would be a dream for him in October.On Wednesday, the 27-year-old announced he intends to just stay focused on his football after scoring both goals in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Watford.But Sarri believes now is the time for answers on Hazard’s Chelsea future.“I don’t know but it’s time to decide,” said Sarri on the club website, when asked if Hazard will stay at the club.“I am the coach. I am not the president, I am not in charge of the market, I am the coach. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch.Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…“I think we have to solve the problem.”The Blues will take a trip to Selhurst Park this Sunday to take on Crystal Palace in the Premier League.And Sarri is expecting a stern challenge from the Eagles, who defeated Manchester City 3-2 last week.“It’s a very difficult match because in the last three matches at home they were able to not concede a goal to the opponent, then they are very dangerous on the counter-attack,” said the Italian.“We have to play against a very dangerous team, especially with it being away.”Pedro will be unavailable for the league match against Palace on Sunday, which begins at 13:00 (CET).