The NewsFuror

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pakistan collapse in Karachi Test

FIRST TEST, KARACHI: South Africa 450; Pakistan 127-5 (day two, stumps)

South Africa blasted out Pakistan's top order cheaply to seize the advantage after two days of the first Test.

Pakistan had taken the last seven South African wickets for 98 runs in Karachi to bowl the tourists out for 450, but they then collapsed themselves.

Having raced to 71-0 in the 15th over, they slid to 127-5 at stumps, spinner Paul Harris taking 2-18 in 12 overs.

South Africa will aim for a big effort on Wednesday to give themselves the option of enforcing the follow-on.

However, with the pitch only expected to deteriorate more and more, they would probably not be keen on having to bat last.

After a first day dominated by South Africa's batsmen, and in particular Jacques Kallis who reached 118 not out in a score of 294-3, on Tuesday it was the turn of the bowlers to bite back.

Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria became the sixth Pakistan bowler to take 200 Test wickets when removing Kallis and Ashwell Prince in the morning.

Kallis added 37 to his overnight score before edging a back-foot force. For the 25th time in his Test career, he had failed to convert a century into a double ton.

The ultra-patient Prince (36 off 97 balls) then misread Kaneria's googly to send the bowler an easy return catch and Pakistan were back in the game.

Soon after lunch the scorebaord read 392-6 as slow left-armer Abdur Rehman, in a memorable debut, earned a fortunate decision from umpire Mark Benson.

Mark Boucher appeared to make no contact with an attempted sweep, but Pakistan's appeal for a catch at the wicket was upheld.

Wasim Akram: 414 wkts
Waqar Younis: 373
Imran Khan: 362
Abdul Qadir: 236
Saqlain Mushtaq: 208
Danish Kaneria: 200

No doubt encouraged by his maiden Test wicket, Rehman then accounted for numbers 8,9 and 10 cheaply to claim figures of 4-105.

All the while, AB de Villiers was doing his utmost to farm the strike and played some commanding strokes.

But the support was not there and with only Makhaya Ntini for company he eventually fell to Umar Gul for 77.

Pakistan avoided losing any wickets in the early stages of their reply, to be 17-0 at tea.

But it all went horribly wrong in the final session.

First, Kamran Akmal was trapped lbw by Harris, before the next two wickets fell within four deliveries of each other.

Mohammad Hafeez was brilliantly caught by Kallis at slip off Harris, and Andre Nel bowled Younis Khan with a ball that kept low.

We still have a tough task ahead of us because the pitch is still good for batting
Jacques Kallis

Inexperienced duo Faisal Iqbal and Misbah-ul-Haq were forced into their shells and it was no surprise that neither lasted until stumps.

Kallis duly bowled Iqbal off the inside edge and Misbah edged an ecstatic Dale Steyn behind.

It ended a great day for the veteran all-rounder, who rated his century in the "top three" of all those he had scored in Tests.

The 31-year-old added: "It's vital to have a good first innings score in a Test in the sub-continent and I think we fell 50 runs short.

"In the end our bowlers came out on top and put us in a strong position but we still have a tough task ahead of us because the pitch is still good for batting."

  • Pakistan vice-captain Salman Butt was admitted to hospital with suspected gastroeneteritis before play resumed on Tuesday.

    "Butt had severe pain in his stomach and we took him to the hospital at around 3am," Pakistan team manager Talat Ali told reporters.

    Substitute Yasir Hameed replaced the 22-year-old in the field on day two. Butt was unable to bat on Tuesday.

    Australia destroy India in Kochi

    Australia 306-5 beat India 222 by 84 runs

    Australia handed India a crushing 84-run defeat to earn a 1-0 lead in the seven-match one-day series.

    Asked to bat first in Kochi, they amassed a mighty 306-6 and then needed 47.3 overs to bowl out the hosts.

    Andrew Symonds hit 87 off 83 balls, but the most impressive innings came from unsung reserve 'keeper Brad Haddin.

    Pressed into service after injuries to key batsmen, he hit 87 not out off 69 balls. India lost too many early wickets, Australia catching everything.

    India began their chase with plenty of big shots, Robin Uthappa free-wheeling at the top of the order to make 41 off 30 balls with one outrageous six back over Brett Lee's head.

    But a brilliant Mitchell Johnson delivery sent back Gautam Gambhir cheaply, before Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh played lazy shots, chipping catches to fielders in the inner ring.

    When Uthappa stepped across his stumps to be lbw to the immaculate Stuart Clark, the score was 87-4.

    Suddenly India had to play risk-free cricket, and the required run rate started going up.

    Rahul Dravid (31) looked to push on, but hit a catch off Brad Hogg which Johnson took over his head at deep mid-wicket, standing no more than a few inches off the rope.

    Many fans packed into the Nehru Stadium took that as their cue to head for the exits, though 25 overs remained.

    They had the right idea, the remainder of the match descending into the sort of sterile contest that has given 50-over cricket a bad name.

    Hogg continued to twirl away to earn figures of 3-40, while Clark and Michael Clarke each took two wickets.

    Mahendra Dhoni was last man out for 58 in an innings which soaked up 88 deliveries.

    Things had started so well for India, reducing Australia to 8-2 in the fourth over when Brad Hodge chased a wide outswinger from Sree Santh.

    But Matthew Hayden hit a typically boisterous 75 to lay the platform for Symonds and Haddin.

    We didn't bowl well in the last 20 overs and our batsmen failed to apply themselves
    Mahendra Dhoni

    The batsmen were not concerned about pacing their innings, trusting their own batting skills to seize on anything loose.

    And with the boundary markers brought in following rain in the run-up to the match, Symonds and Haddin shared five sixes - all beautifully struck.

    Harbhajan Singh was one of two replacements for the hosts as he came in for the seamer RP Singh - the other being Uthappa for the injured Sourav Ganguly.

    But the 21 overs of India slow bowling went wicketless, and were hit for 131.

    In truth, India only matched Australia in the verbal exchanges and general posturing, which further marred a forgettable game of cricket.

    Afterwards, India skipper Dhoni highlighted his team's failings: "We got a good start with the ball but didn't bowl well in the last 20 overs.

    "That's the only concern for us. We lost a few wickets in the middle and that made the difference. Our batsmen failed to apply themselves."

    Gilchrist's retirement from one-day cricket may come sooner rather than later following Haddin's recent success, and he said of his stand-in: "It is very satisfying to see new players come in and perform.

    "With injuries come opportunities and Brad showed that today."

    Though Haddin only played because of injuries to Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, he looks likely to play in the remaining five matches of the series.

    Aussies wary of Wilkinson factor

    Australia's Matt Giteau says Jonny Wilkinson's return has made England a far more dangerous proposition for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final.

    Wilkinson missed England's first two games through injury but started against Samoa and Tonga to help get his nation's faltering campaign on track.

    "They have lots of confidence with him back in the side, and not just in terms of his kicking," said Giteau.

    "Once he is in the team, the whole side seems to grow in confidence."

    Australia have won four of the five Tests against England since the last World Cup but Wilkinson - who has kicked 40 points in his two appearances in France - missed all the matches through a series of injuries.

    The last time Wilkinson did play against the Wallabies was in the 2003 World Cup final - when he scored 15 points in England's famous victory, including a match-winning extra-time drop-goal.

    But Giteau insisted his side would go into the match, against an England side that will have Wilkinson at fly-half, without any psychological scars.

    "We don't fear England with him in the team - we don't really fear any of their players," insisted the Australia centre.

    "We respect all the teams but we don't fear anyone in the tournament.

    "England have got a very good forward pack and their back line is beginning to improve."

    Giteau also stated that the more experienced players in the side would be doing their best to take the pressure off the shoulders of their inexperienced fly-half Berrick Barnes.

    The 21-year-old has made an impressive start to his Test career after coming in for the injured Stephen Larkham and Giteau said he wanted the youngster to just "play his game".

    England are improving as tournament goes on and have momentum on their side
    Australia flanker George Smith

    Meanwhile, Wallabies flanker George Smith believes England will pose a challenge that few thought they could mount after their 36-0 demolition by South Africa.

    "England have been in a rebuilding phase since 2003 and it takes time to build cohesion," said Smith.

    "They definitely aren't the team of 2003 but they are improving as the tournament goes on and have momentum on their side.

    "It's a huge challenge. England were humbled by South Africa but have improved with each game and are now a very good side. They are always up for it against Australia."

    Smith's comments are in marked contrast to those of his team-mate Lote Tuqiri, who dismissed England's back line, claiming that winger Jason Robinson was the nation's only world-class three-quarter.

    NZ's Carter back to face France

    New Zealand v France
    Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

    Saturday, 6 October
    Kick-off: 2000 BST

    New Zealand coach Graham Henry has ushered fly-half Dan Carter back into the side for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final with France in Cardiff.

    Carter, 25, missed the 85-8 victory over Romania with a calf strain and has yet to return to full training, but he is hoping to be fit to face the French.

    New Zealand's record try-scorer Doug Howlett is left out of the 22.

    "Dan Carter was playing 50% of the time in practice [on Tuesday] but it looks like he'll be fine," said Henry.

    "We can't be 100% sure on that but we have Nick Evans ready to step in if required, so it's not a major issue.

    The selection of the side is probably the most difficult it's been since we've done the job, particularly the backs
    New Zealand coach Graham Henry

    "Dan is reasonably positive he'll get through, but if we keep pushing him in training he won't get there.

    "For him to train at 100% would be suicidal so we need to keep the reins on him a bit."

    Only five players remain from the side that beat Romania - inside centre Luke McAlister, wingers Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu, lock Keith Robinson and back row Jerry Collins.

    Howlett, who has scored 48 Test tries, has been kept out of the side by Sivivatu, while Leon MacDonald starts at full-back and Mils Muliaina comes in at outside centre.

    Robinson is preferred at lock to Chris Jack, while Anton Oliver starts at hooker, with Keven Mealamu on the bench.

    "The selection of the side is probably the most difficult it's been since we've done the job, particularly the backs," said Henry.

    "We could have picked any of our 14 backs in this match because they're all playing exceptionally well.

    "Up front, there is a bit of a gap between the top and second players in some positions. "That's no criticism of the second player, that's just the fact of the matter.

    "Having tough choices to make is a great situation to be in but it's also difficult to inform the guys who haven't been picked."

    Henry had all of the 30-man squad available for selection, with the exception of loose forward Sione Lauaki, who was banned for two matches for a dangerous tackle on Romania winger Gabriel Brezonianu.

    Henry added: "We are excited to play France. Sudden-death rugby obviously has its own tensions and that's the reality all eight teams face this weekend.

    "France probably weren't expected to be in this quarter-final so there may be some extra tension in this match particularly.

    "As a team we have really enjoyed the big occasions over the last few years and we've enjoyed a good and thorough preparation for this match."

    New Zealand will wear their grey "away" strip instead of their traditional black after losing a coin toss to France, whose shirt is dark blue.

    "The All Blacks are a very strong team and if they play in pink, blue or white they would be as strong as playing in black," said France captain Raphael Ibanez.

    New Zealand: MacDonald, Rokocoko, Muliaina, McAlister, Sivivatu, Carter, Kelleher; Woodcock, Oliver, Hayman, Robinson, Williams, Collins, McCaw (capt), So'oialo.
    Replacements: Mealamu, Tialata, Jack, Masoe , Leonard, Evans, Toeava.

    Man Utd 1-0 Roma

    Wayne Rooney's first goal of the season fired Manchester United to victory against Roma at Old Trafford.

    There was to be no repeat of the 7-1 drubbing handed out to Roma in April by United in last season's quarter-final.

    Chances were at a premium with Cristiano Ronaldo and Francesco Totti restricted to long-range efforts.

    Rooney broke the deadlock with a sharp 15-yard finish after he was set up by Nani to leave United three points clear at the top of Group F.

    United seem to have a habit of winning 1-0 and once again they failed to hit anything like top form against a resolute Roma outfit.

    The entire match was a tactical affair in which United demonstrated plenty of intent but very little of the attacking verve which served them so well last season.

    Roma, who were knocked off the top of Serie A on Saturday when they slumped to a 4-1 home defeat to Inter Milan, were content to soak up what United threw at them.

    Both sides went into the game with stand-in goalkeepers - but neither was seriously tested with long-distance shots from Francesco Totti and Cristiano Ronaldo causing few alarms.

    United - with Louis Saha starting a game for the first time since February - began passing the ball around crisply but Roma quickly smothered the Red Devils with Daniele de Rossi brilliantly screening the visiting defence.

    Totti's 30-yard free-kick evaded the wall and Tomasz Kuszczak, in for the injured Edwin van der Sar, needed two attempts to cushion the ball to his chest.

    United should have gone ahead on 33 minutes when Nani got round the back of the Roma defence only for a carefree Rooney to volley over from a good position.

    That apart, Sir Alex Ferguson will have been disappointed to see his side lacking momentum in wide positions with Ronaldo and Nani dropping deep far too often.

    If United were too relaxed in the first period, they immediately threatened at the start of the second when a Ronaldo raid down the right was cleared by a relieved Phillipe Mexes in front of his own goal.

    Roma spurned their best chance when Giuly set up Totti, who blazed over the advancing Kuszczak from close range five minutes after the restart.

    Alberto Aquilani fired another warning to United moments later when he fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box as the Italians sensed a goal was possible.

    United were still struggling to get sufficient men forward with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick content to sit deep in the crowded midfield and unable to make their mark on proceedings.

    Rooney produced a bright moment when he cut inside the left side of the Roma defence before unleashing a powerful low shot which Curci pushed away for a corner.

    Carlos Tevez replaced the tiring Saha and United soon had the ball in the net when the Argentine found Ronaldo, who audaciously back-heeled home from an offside position.

    Rooney clinched victory 20 minutes from time with an exquisite finish to raise the roof off Old Trafford.

    Carrick found Nani and he cleverly played the ball through to Rooney who turned outside and found the net off the inside of the far post with a crisp 15-yard shot.

    Tevez almost made it 2-0 with a sizzling 22-yard effort while Kuszczak did well at the other end to collect a well-struck Simone Perrotta effort.

    Roma should have levelled three minutes from time when Totti played the ball back for Mauro Esposito, who carelessly blazed wide from 10 yards with United stretched at the back.

    Ferguson said beforehand that he would settle for a 1-0 win. It was not always pretty but it went to script and United are well on their way towards qualifying for the knockout stages.

  • Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
    "I'm pleased with the result, it's a fair result, we controlled most of the match, carried a little bit of luck towards the end.

    "The second half we improved and the goal was a fabulous goal.

    "Luck happens in football, no question about that. I think we got a break in the last 15 minutes of the match when they started to risk a bit."

  • Roma manager Luciano Spalletti:
    "Really this is a match where my players shouldn't be on the beaten side.

    "Even when you are playing against opponents of Manchester United's stature, with the players they have."

    Man Utd: Kuszczak, O'Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Nani (Giggs 79), Saha (Tevez 66), Rooney (Anderson 84).
    Subs Not Used: Heaton, Pique, Simpson, Eagles.

    Goal: Rooney 70.

    Roma: Curci, Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto, De Rossi, Aquilani (Pizarro 61), Giuly (Esposito 79), Perrotta, Mancini (Vucinic 74), Totti.
    Subs Not Used: Bertagnoli, Antunes, Barusso, Brighi.

    Booked: Mexes.

    Att: 73,652.

    Ref: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).

    Lyon 0-3 Rangers

    Rangers made it two wins from two Champions League outings with an amazing victory in Lyon.

    Lee McCulloch gave the visitors a half time lead with a powerful header from a DaMarcus Beasley corner.

    And Rangers stung the hosts with two breakaway goals early in the second half, Daniel Cousin and Beasley applying the finishes.

    The French side hit the woodwork three times but Rangers defended stoutly throughout for a valuable three points.

    The Ibrox side are now level with Barcelona, who won 2-0 in Stuttgart, at the top of Group E and next face the Catalan giants in Glasgow on 23 October.

    Rangers, who had been seeded fourth in a tough section, must now be harbouring serious ambitions of reaching the knockout phase.

    Lyon, on top of Ligue 1 after a shaky start to the season, made a bright opening, zipping one-touch passes around with confidence.

    But the Rangers midfielder five worked hard to protect their defenders, constructing a solid wall of blue shirts across the the face of the penalty area.

    And the visitors stunned the the home fans in the Stade Gerland when they opened the scoring on 23 minutes.

    Alan Hutton broke purposefully from his right-back berth to win a corner and McCulloch rose to bullet home the near post delivery from Beasley.

    With Walter Smith's side continuing to defend deep in their own half, a frustrated Lyon side were reduced to long range shots, without troubling goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

    Lyon full-back Fabio Grosso did manage to steal in behind the Rangers rearguard but his fizzing low cross was too firm for any of his team-mates to connect with.

    A minute before the interval, Juninho won a free-kick, which earned David Weir a yellow card, with a devious dive.

    However, justice was done when the Brazilian midfielder's dipping strike from 22 yards cannoned off the crossbar, with the flailing McGregor grasping at thin air.

    The second half was just two minutes old when Juninho flashed an angled shot narrowly wide of the target.

    Rangers immediately replied with another penetrating run from Hutton and Cousin took a neat touch from the defender's pass before turning his marker and blazing a shot beyond Remy Vercoutre.

    The small band of travelling fans were still celebrating the Frenchman's strike when Beasley increased the lead.

    With the home defence posted missing, the American winger ran on to a long ball from Cousin and calmly placed it past the dithering Vercoutre.

    On 70 minutes, Juninho struck the frame of the goal for a second time with fierce strike from 20 yards.

    McGregor made a fine save from a deflected Hatem Ben Arfa effort and a header from Cleber Beraldo crashed off the bar as Lyon pressed for a way back into a game they had been fancied to win comfortably.

    Lyon : Vercoutre, Reveillere (Clerc 81), Squillaci, Anderson, Grosso, Juninho, Bodmer (Ben Arfa 60), Kallstrom, Govou, Baros (Keita 60), Benzema. Subs Not Used: Roux, Belhadj, Fabio Santos, Toulalan.

    Booked : Squillaci, Reveillere.

    Rangers : McGregor, Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Hemdani, Beasley (Adam 90), Ferguson, Thomson, McCulloch (Novo 80), Cousin (Whittaker 66). Subs Not Used: Carroll, Boyd, Naismith, Faye.

    Booked : Weir, Ferguson, Thomson.

    Goals : McCulloch 23, Cousin 48, Beasley 53.

    Att : 38,076

    Ref : Tom Ovrebo (Norway).

    Data row hits mobile mast website

    The future of a website which details all the mobile phone masts in the UK is in doubt following a row over divulging "commercially sensitive" information.

    The Sitefinder website is maintained by media regulator Ofcom, following a request from the government in 2000.

    But mobile firms stopped giving data to the site last year after Ofcom was told it must publish grid references of all the masts in a searchable database.

    It is appealing against the Information Commissioner and Tribunal order.

    Sitefinder also shows which type of mobile phone signal is being used, the name of the operator, the frequency of the signal and the height of the mast.

    Ofcom was ordered by the Information Commissioner to publish all of that information, including the grid reference of each mast in the country, in a single database file.

    Radio network

    It followed more than two years of requests from Ian Henton, of Health Protection Scotland, for the data under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The request was made under the "general right of access to information held by public authorities" as enshrined by the act.

    Ofcom had argued that supplying such specific information could leave the emergency services radio network open to abuse.

    It also pointed out that the data was owned by the mobile firms and was supplied voluntarily.

    Ofcom explained that if the raw data were available it would provide mobile phone competitors with a "springboard" from which to discover the design of each operator's 2G or 3G radio networks.

    But the Information Commissioner disagreed and said the data had to be released.

    As a result, mobile phone firms have stopped supplying all data to Ofcom.

    A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators Association said putting all the requested data into the public domain would "entail serious competitive and commercial issues for each of the operators".

    She added: "The operators fully support Sitefinder continuing to be publicly searchable by postcode, streetname, or locality."

    She said the operators were in discussion with Ofcom and the government on the future provision of data to Sitefinder.

    'Remain optimistic'

    In a statement the regulator said it was concerned that Sitefinder "would cease to be a valuable tool for the public" unless the mobile firms could be persuaded to continue handing over data.

    Ofcom is now appealing the Information Commissioner's decision in the High Court.

    It said it was optimistic of persuading the operators to resume supplying information.

    "We remain committed to providing the Sitefinder service to citizens and consumers," said the regulator.

    Mr Henton was not immediately available for comment.

    Ford leads drop in US car sales

    Ford led a slide in US car sales for most firms last month, after the recent financial turmoil spooked customers.

    The Us group sold less than 190,000 vehicles, 21% lower than at the same time last year, and much worse than the 4% fall predicted by analysts.

    Meanwhile, Japanese rival Toyota blamed a drop in truck sales for a 4% fall in overall vehicle sales.

    But, General Motors (GM) bucked the trend with a 4% rise in sales - led by demand for its new line-up of vehicles.

    Ford is struggling to hold on to a near 15% share of the US market amidst efforts to restructure to cut losses.

    Chrysler, meanwhile, posted a 5% drop in sales for the month - down to 159,799 vehicles against 168,888 a year earlier.

    Car sales fell 39% to 56,000 while truck and sports utility vehicle sales fell 9% to 134,000, Ford said.

    Ford's figures were knocked by a 62% drop in sales to hire-car companies, though this was in line with Ford's plan to cut back deals that hurt its image and where profit margins are low.

    Sales of Ford's best-selling F-series pick-up trucks fell more than 20%.

    Buyer worries

    Sales of trucks and 4x4 vehicles - so-called gas guzzlers - have been slipping as consumers turn to more efficient smaller cars and hybrids in an effort to cut fuel bills.

    Analysts suggest US consumers have also been tightening their belts when it comes to big purchases in the wake of recent credit worries and trouble in the housing market.

    Experts add that the fall in sales at the Japanese rival also signalled a bad month for automakers in the US as the group had managed to rack up gains in recent months.

    Toyota's overall decline compared to last year was also led by its trucks, with sales down 5.7%. Car sales slipped 3.5%.

    However, the figures suffered from being compared with the same month in 2006, which was the group's best September on record.

    Meanwhile fellow Asian firms Nissan and Honda also managed to increase sales.

    Honda said its new Accord saloon helped drive a 9.4% rise in sales while Nissan was buoyed by a 6.7% increase.

    Oil prices slide back below $80

    Oil prices retreated below the $80-a-barrel mark in London on Tuesday as investors looked ahead to Wednesday's US inventory report.

    Profit taking and investor caution has seen the price of US light sweet crude fall back from the $83.90 high, seen on 20 September.

    After dropping $1.42 on Monday, it fell another 78 cents to $79.46, while Brent crude dipped 85 cents to $76.79.

    Analysts say the inventory report will be important for short-term prices.

    The dip comes despite the US dollar hitting a string of record lows against the euro and other currencies.

    This makes oil - and other commodities priced in dollars - cheaper for customers with non-dollar funds.

    Indications that the Gulf of Mexico has seen the worst of the hurricane season has also prompted some profit taking, analysts say, with calmer weather likely to reduce concerns over supply, and lead to lower prices.

    Search giants offer new features

    Yahoo and Microsoft have announced upgrades to their search engines in efforts to gain ground on rival Google.

    Yahoo's makeover will include features that allow users to refine searches as well as offering links to photos, music and video on the results page.

    Microsoft's new-improved Live Search represents a "quantum jump in search results" according to the company.

    Google remains the most popular net search engine, accounting for over half of web searches.

    According to data from comScore Media Metrix, Google had a 56.5% share of the US search market, compared to Yahoo wtih 23.3% and Microsoft with 11.3%. In the UK, Google's dominance is even greater with around 75% market share.

    Its dominance has forced rivals to relaunch, add new features and improve the relevance of its searches in an effort to compete.

    Microsoft's improved Live Search - which will be available globally by the end of October - will offer a series of new featues, including a quadrupling of its index of searchable web pages as well as improving the way it delivers answers to specific questions.

    It will draw on its three-dimensional mapping service for location-relevant searches as well as offering video, charts and pictures for relevant results.

    Yahoo's upgrades include offering ways to phrase a search request as a user types into the query box. It will also use information from its calendar service, Upcoming.org, to highlight local events when relevant to requests.

    Search rival Ask.com relaunched with a dramatically different interface in June, offering search suggestions and thumbnail pictures of listed sites.

    There has been a rise in so-called metasearch engines which trawl through a variety of other search engines to find results.

    Ultra-thin TV to hit the market

    An ultra-thin television brighter and crisper than current generation screens will go on sale from Sony in December.

    The TV uses organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) to produce the image, resulting in a screen only 3mm thick.

    OLED screens are more energy efficient than LCD panels as they do not need a backlight to boost brightness.

    But it is difficult and expensive to make large screens using the technology. Sony's first OLED TV costs £850 and has an 11in display.

    OLED screens are brighter than LCD panels and also have better contrast ratio - resulting in sharper pictures.

    The diodes emit a brilliant white light when attached to an electricity supply and are also being developed for use as replacements to traditional light bulbs.

    Colour display

    Different organic materials produce different colours and are combined to produce a colour display.

    Sony has hailed the new television as a signal of its returning strength as a technology innovator.

    "Some people have said attractive products are slow to come at Sony despite its technological strength," said Sony president Ryoji Chubachi at a news conference at its Tokyo headquarters.

    I do believe this is a type of technology with very high potential
    Katsumi Ihara, Sony

    He added: "I want this world's first OLED TV to be the symbol of the revival of Sony's technological prowess.

    "I want this to be the flag under which we charge forward to turn the fortunes around."

    Other firms are also working on OLED screens - Samsung has shown off a 40-inch TV using the technology - but Sony is the first to market.

    "I don't think OLED TVs will replace LCD TVs overnight. But I do believe this is a type of technology with very high potential, something that will come after LCD TVs," said Sony executive deputy president Katsumi Ihara.

    The new TV goes on sale in Japan on 1 December. There are no plans for a global launch as yet.

    The OLED TV has a lifespan of about 30,000 hours of viewing - half that of Sony's LCD televisions.

    US claims success in war on drugs

    he top US drugs official has said anti-drug efforts are having the best results of the past 20 years.

    John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said cocaine shortages had led to a jump in prices in 37 American cities.

    Efforts on both sides of the Mexican border have disrupted the flow of all drugs into the US, Mr Walters said.

    But he said it had not yet been proven if the results could be sustained over the long term.

    Mexican traffickers extradited

    Mr Walters was speaking as the US and Mexico work out the details of an aid plan - expected to total $1bn - for Mexico to help combat drug cartels.

    About 90% of the cocaine entering the US comes through Mexico.

    "What's happened for the first time in two decades is we now see widespread reports of cocaine shortages in the United States," Mr Walters said.

    In 37 cities had reported, he said, "the lack of the ability to receive wholesale amounts, kilo amounts, of cocaine in the quantities previously supplied at prices previously charged".

    As a result of the drop in supply, the price of cocaine had increased by 24% and nearly doubled in some cities.

    The drugs tsar credited Mexican President Felipe Calderon for some of the success.

    He said US investigators had been working closely with Mexican authorities in their fight against the drug cartels.

    Since Mr Calderon took office in December he has sent 25,000 soldiers and police to Mexican provinces plagued by drug violence and it seems to be working, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Mexico City.

    Several high-profile Mexican traffickers have been extradited to the US in recent months.

    Mr Walters also said that fewer American workers were showing positive on drug tests and that there were fewer cocaine-related hospital admissions.

    The real challenge, he said, would be maintaining the results over the long term.

    Aishwarya Rai to act in Taj film

    Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai is set to star in a major film about the Taj Mahal, India's famous monument to love.

    Rai, 33, will play the role of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who built the stunning monument for her.

    Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, who will also be producing the $30m film, will play Shah Jahan.

    Rai, a former Miss World, is one of Bollywood's top stars and is hugely popular in her native India.

    'She is special'

    The as yet untitled film will be produced by Sir Ben and is scheduled to be shot in India in 2008, Rai's foreign agent Simone Sheffield told.

    The director of the film has not yet been chosen and the script has yet to be completed, Ms Sheffield said.

    Another Bollywood actress and former model, Bipasha Basu, will be playing the role of Shah Jahan's daughter, Jahanara.

    Ms Sheffield said Sir Ben had met Basu while co-hosting the Seven New Wonders of the World event in Lisbon in July, where they had discussed the role.

    Rai, 33, is presently filming Pink Panther 2, starring Steve Martin, Andy Garcia, Jean Reno and John Cleese, in Boston.

    She has worked in international projects with mixed results. In 2005, she appeared in the British romantic comedy Bride and Prejudice; and she also starred in Provoked, a film based on the autobiography of a victim of domestic abuse, who was convicted of the murder of her husband.

    Ms Sheffield said Rai was "considering two other [international] films" for next spring.

    "She is special because she can play different ages and ethnicities. Because of this, many producers and directors think of her in a wide range of roles," she said.

    Rai has been featured on the cover of Time magazine as Bollywood's leading lady and has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman.

    Earlier this year, she married fellow star Abhishek Bachchan, son of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

    Darfur rebels 'outgun' AU troops

    The commander of African Union forces in Darfur, Gen Martin Luther Agwai, has said his troops are outnumbered and outgunned by rebels and militias.

    Gen Agwai said that is why an AU base in the Sudanese region was overrun on Saturday with 10 soldiers killed.

    He told a group of elder statesmen visiting Darfur that he did not expect to have any more troops until next year when a joint AU-UN force is deployed.

    The UN Security Council has condemned the attack on the AU soldiers.

    "We are outgunned, we are outnumbered and we can be overrun very quickly," Gen Agwai told the delegation of statesmen, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

    The "Elders" have been visiting Darfur to try to find solutions to the conflict.

    Rebels blamed

    Gen Agwai said the AU detachment at the base in Haskanita had been caught off guard as they were conducting dusk prayers.

    He said no African country could provide enough properly equipped troops for the mission in Darfur.

    About 7,000 AU troops from 26 countries are currently patrolling the region, an area roughly the size of France.

    The African Union is reviewing the force's mandate to allow it more scope to protect itself.

    Gen Agwai said he did not expect any improvement in the situation on the ground in Darfur until next year when a 26,000-strong joint AU-UN force is to be deployed under his command.

    Darfur rebels are being blamed for the Haskanita attack but it is not clear which of the many groups carried it out.

    The UN Security Council has condemned the attack but council members wrangled over the language of their statement.

    South Africa wanted it called a terrorist attack but the US, Britain and France urged caution on naming those who might be behind the killings, saying it is not yet clear who carried them out, says the BBC's Laura Trevelyan at the UN in New York.

    The UN and the AU are investigating the attack.

    At least 200,000 people have died and some 2m forced from their homes during the four year conflict in Darfur.