Magic number 3964

By some strange coincidence, the number 3964 appears to be significant in World Cup football. The total of the two years when Brazil won the World Cup — 1970 and 1994 — is 3964. Similarly, the years when Germany won the Cup, 1974 and 1990, add up to 3964. Argentina was the champion in 1978 and 1986, and the total here is again 3964.

When 1962 is added to 2002, the years when Brazil won its second and fifth world titles respectively, the total is 3964.

Brazil won its first World Cup in 1958 in Sweden. Should the nation win its sixth title this year, the total of the two years would add up to 3964.

Shankar V, Chennai Invest in the right players

Now it appears to be the turn of Chelsea to start their galacticos after the Spanish giants Real Madrid. After including big names such as Ballack and Shevchenko, Chelsea's boss Roman Abrahamovic is eyeing Brazilian star Roberto Carlos.

Being a Chelsea fan, I fear the club would meet the same fate of Real Madrid. Chelsea should invest, but in players who would follow coach Mourinho's ethics. Mourinho has been erratic by not utilising many players he bought to their full potential, such as Damian Duff and Paulo Ferriera. The influx of players such as Ballack and Shevchenko could mean that careers of players like Drogba, Duff and Robben could come to an early end at Stamford Bridge.

Mohak Mangal, New Delhi Play five bowlers

India had a chance of leading 2-0 against the West Indies in the current Test series. Our bowlers, however, failed twice in getting the opposition out to win the Test matches. The Indian bowlers need more penetration. Our bowling combination needs a second look. To win a Test we need to take 20 wickets, and for this we must play five good bowlers. In order to have a balanced team some crucial adjustments have to be made.

Shirish J. Buch, Rajkot True champion

Seriously, heartbeats were up and fast during the second Test between India and the West Indies. We all may say that one full day's play was lost due to rain and India was robbed of victory, but as life always has a few surprises, twists and turns, so does cricket. Leaving that aspect aside, what more can a spectator ask for than a truly amazing innings from Brian Lara, who is more than just a hero.

The Indians had kept Lara quiet in the series, but when the occasion came, he rose like a true champion. For someone who has achieved nearly every single batting milestone in Test cricket, it's great that Lara still finds such motivation.

Jaskaran Singh, Chandigarh Victory elusive

After a humiliating 4-1 defeat to the West Indies in the one-day internationals, it's disheartening that victory eluded India in the first two Tests. Thanks to the tailenders' never-say-die attitude, and Brian Lara's uncharacteristic, defensive century, the West Indies denied India victory in the second Test. It's a pity that India, despite amassing a big total with three centuries and forcing the opposition to follow on, failed to win. The team management's decision not to include Harbhajan Singh in the playing eleven was also a reason for India's inability to force victory. Virender Sehwag's bowling was a revelation. The Indian vice-captain, besides scoring a scintillating century, also bowled very well. Hope India would be able pull off victories in the next two Tests and clinch the series in the Caribbean for the first time in 35 years.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad Biased match referees

It is an irony that the ICC, in order to hide the biased attitude of its match referees, has come out with a change to give the benefit of doubt to the fielder. If that were the case, what is the necessity of having the third umpire and television replays to decide on contentious dismissals? The field umpires could very well go by fielders' versions.

There is absolutely no doubt that Brian Lara is one of the best personalities in cricket. However, what he did in Antigua cannot be overlooked. The match referee's act of fining Sehwag and only reprimanding Pedro Collins for the same offence is totally biased. It is high time the Boards of Asian Countries, who are always targeted by the match referees, show their dissent to such biased decisions.

Vinay Mahadevan, Dubai Seles, Graf's equal

If statistics are the only proof, then it is difficult to disagree with Rohit Brijnath's assessment (Sportstar, June 17, 2006) that Steffi Graf was the greatest player to wield a tennis racquet on the distaff side. But a study of her career graph before and after the Monica Seles stabbing incident reveals a different picture, as Seles definitely had Graf's number prior to that episode, so much so that `Fraulein forehand' was low on self-confidence (in the years 1990 to 1993) and losing to players she was till then beating easily. The mental edge that Seles had over Graf disappeared as it were, thanks to the knife-edge of a xenophobic Graf fan. With Seles unable to get over that gory incident psychologically, Graf regained her mental composure and thereafter brooked no resistance from any quarter.

Suresh Manoharan, Hyderabad