Sachin remains a big hit
Agarkar to miss Hobart tie
One-wkt win for George
Gallant Tolly hold Goans
Bengal favourites
Dipa nets hattrick
3 teams card day’s best
‘Investment’ wins a thriller
Six to vie for ‘Champagne’

Sydney, Jan. 16: 
The Indians have had a miserable summer, but no autograph is more treasured than Sachin Tendulkar’s. As for a photograph with him, well, that’s even better than a dream coming true.

At the team hotel (The Avillion) last evening, for instance, a group of largely Indian admirers almost died of shock when Sachin kept the elevator on hold till he obliged everybody. Autographs, photographs...

But that’s not all. Be it the Gabba or the absolutely enchanting Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), it’s not uncommon for clusters of fans — many of them Australians — to just watch the Little Master at nets.

Few talk and, if at all, in whispers. Even something as mundane as adjusting the thigh-guard or the helmet visor, is viewed reverentially. Clearly, Sachin does make their day.

You could argue the Indian captain has always been the darling of admirers across the world of cricket, but the adulation still is somewhat different in Australia.

Much of it, of course, has to do with Sir Donald Bradman — the most revered Australian of any era — telling the world that he saw himself in Sachin.

For Sachin, that remains “the ultimate compliment.” Again, it’s largely because of that one parallel, that the Media in these parts has been very respectful towards Sachin.

However, there have been two exceptions. The first was during the Sydney Test, when a slant was given to what Sachin had said on the ‘sawdust issue.’ Episode No. 2 also centres around sawdust at the SCG.

“Tendulkar Almost Led Walk-off” is among the more prominent headlines in this morning’s widely circulated The Sun-Herald.

Predictably, it hasn’t amused Sachin. “I’m very disappointed,” he said more than once, after a workout at the SCG.

Filed by one of Australia’s most respected writers, the report says Sachin “threatened” to walk off if umpire Peter Parker didn’t uphold his plea for more sawdust when Friday’s match, against Australia, resumed after a 24-minute break owing to rain.

The report, which also ticked off vice-captain Sourav Ganguly for joining forces with Sachin, has the following lines too: “With their cause all but lost after their team’s dismissal for 100, any delay was a good delay for the Indians.”

“Oh, I’m very disappointed. Where we were concerned, it wasn’t an issue at all and, at no time, did I issue any threat. What I did tell the umpire is that the area was very slippery and it would help if it was made more dry. As it had rained, we know conditions could never be ideal.

“Initially, the umpire maintained nothing more could be done, but he took my point about reconsidering should anyone slip. In fact, as it turned out, he did call the groundstaff. There certainly wasn’t any confrontation. At the very least, the writer could have taken my version before writing what he did,” Sachin pointed out.

He added: “I’m very disappointed... Why place an incorrect picture before the public?” What has hurt Sachin more is the bit about “.any delay was a good delay for the Indians.”

From this morning’s report Sachin, who gave catching practice to teammates with the help of a Slazenger tennis racket (“No, I’m not fancying a shot at the Australian Open!”), switched to talking about the days ahead.

Three defeats in succession have pegged India right back in the Carlton and United Series, but the tournament is far from over. “We can’t get disheartened... These are tough times, for the team, but I keep telling the players not to give up. I wouldn’t agree that the team isn’t trying.”

Obviously, Sachin has immense faith, but the collective failure is making him smile even less. Though he was Man of the Series in the Tests, Sachin has himself been a failure in the Carlton and United Series — 13, 12 and 1.

Like the rest of the world, Sachin is waiting for that one innings to help turn things around.

“It’s important, on the off days, to unwind... We had a break yesterday and I asked everybody to take their minds off cricket (Sourav and Debashish Mohanty, for example, had a wonderful evening at the residence of a New South Wales University research engineer — N.M. Saha-Chaudhury)... Mentally, the players must relax...”

But is there a problem with motivation where some players are concerned? Sachin was quick to answer: “Not at all... Every member of my team is motivated.”

At the same time, Sachin didn’t shoot down a suggestion that the team avail the services of a professional motivator — and there are many in Australia. “It could be tried, though the motivator will need time to know the players. Besides, he’s got to have some knowledge of cricket. Otherwise...”

This Indian captain is definitely open to ideas.    

Sydney, Jan. 16: 
The anger among Indian fans Friday was all too evident. Let down not once but twice, in a fortnight, they had every reason to feel cheated. Yet, despite the heartbreak and heartburn, they still have faith.

It’s reflected in tidy turnouts at the team hotel and at the SCG during nets. The prevailing sentiment across Australia, which should specially please Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, is: “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.”

And, so, even the Sunil Joshis get mobbed. It’s taken the Indian team eight years to return to Australia, and even though the next trip probably won’t be in so distant a future, Indian expats still wish to make the most of this visit.

There was a huge crowd at the hotel (The Avillion) last evening and, this morning, fans were present at the SCG, too. For the very young ones, in particular, there was a bonus: Kapil Dev actually bowling.

Though Kapil bowled the equivalent of just an over or so, it served as a Sunday treat for the young ones. Kapil, who underwent knee surgery last month, quipped: “Within a few days, I’ll bowl with spikes on... Aap dekhna...”

With nothing clicking on the field, the pressure on Kapil, off it, is enormous. But everybody swears he couldn’t have done more to lift morale. It’s not sky-high, but could have been a lot worse.

At nets, today, Kapil was seen paying special attention to V.V.S. Laxman, who has hit a rough patch after that brilliant 167 in the Sydney Test. Later, Kapil focussed on the quicks: “Aage pheko, that’s it...”

The coach can’t be faulted for not giving the assignment his best shot. Only, like the captain, Kapil is waiting for the turnaround. And, yes, he’s aware it’s got to take shape in Hobart (against Pakistan, Friday).

Meanwhile, manager Mahendra Bhargava announced that Ajit Agarkar won’t be fit for the Hobart match. “He’s recovering well from the injury to his (left) hamstring muscle, but should only be fit for the first game in Adelaide (versus Pakistan, January 25). He will, of course, undergo a fitness test.”

India, who leave for Hobart on Tuesday instead of tomorrow because of a baggage handlers’ strike, have back-to-back matches in Adelaide, the second against Australia.

Jacob Martin who, too, was on the list of injured is now fit.    

Calcutta, Jan. 16: 
George Telegraph notched up a one-wicket win over Rangers in a CAB first division league match today.

ABP Sports Club rode centuries by Arghya Maitra and Amaresh Mohanty to an emphatic seven-wicket win against Paikpara.    

Calcutta, Jan. 16: 

There has been talk of Tollygunge Agragami’s ultra-defensive football this season. Today, Amal Dutta’s men blew away the myth with a lion-hearted display and held title contenders Salgaocar goalless in a thrilling Coca-Cola National League match at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.

Tollygunge took some time to weather the initial dominance of the defending champions but they responded positively. Rather than wilting under the early pressure, Tollygunge went on the offensive whenever the situation permitted and launched an inspired assault in the second half.

The Goan club, yet to concede a goal in eight matches so far, had a lucky escape in the 73rd minute when Srikanta Dutta missed the chance of the match. But with Alvito D’Cunha working hard upfront, the visitors also came across a few chances which made proceedings all the more entertaining.

Salgaocar took early control with Jules Alberto and Denis Cabral dominating the midfield. There was plenty of supply for Brazilian Joao Dos Santos and D’Cunha and the former came across a couple of chances in the opening quarter.

Santos, fed by D’Cunha on both occasions, first essayed a feeble header and then volleyed wide. The most striking difference between the Brazilian and the rest of the pack was his white pair of boots and he was substituted by Shabbir Ali Mondal in the second half.

With Nigerian Habib Adenkule screening the defence, where Roberto Fernandes and Franky Barreto looked solid, Tollygunge could not quite penetrate in the first half except the odd chances. Chandan Das miscued a volley from the edge of the box in the ninth minute and Moses Owira was tackled just in time by Barreto in the dying minutes of this session.

Things changed dramatically after the breather and Tollygunge, under the leadership of Awoyemi Isiaka, surprised the visitors with some speedy forays. Isiaka covered a lot of ground and initiated the move of the match in the 63rd minute.

Receiving the ball near his own penalty area, the big Nigerian dribbled past two players, played a one-two with Dutta after entering the rival half and sent in a cross from the right. Das cracked a left-footed volley which goalkeeper Juje Siddi did well to keep out with his fingertips.

The Salgaocar defence crumbled for a second time in the 73rd minute when Das found Dutta near the six-yard box but the striker — whose lapse against Dempo cost Tollygunge two points — failed to control the ball with just Siddi to beat. Such chances don’t come often and a team which likes to play the waiting game can hardly afford similar blunders.

Salgaocar also came close in the second half but a brave tackle by Soumen Sarkar denied Mondal, seconds after the substitute came in, and then the balding striker failed to reach a D’Cunha centre in the 61st minute.

Salgaocar coach Shabbir Ali said his team played better than what they did against East Bengal and was satisfied with the performance of the medios.

Amal Dutta had little to say apart from blaming the shooting skills of his striker but he couldn’t justify bringing in Gourab Sengupta, whose inclusion reduced the pressure on the Salgaocar defence, in place of Owira.    

Midnapore, Jan. 16: 
Bengal enjoy a clear edge over rivals Orissa when they meet in the final of the 22nd sub-junior (under-16) national football championship for the Mir Iqbal Trophy at Aurobindo Stadium here tomorrow.

Orissa, who ousted fancied Bihar in the semi-final, have promised to play an all out attacking game in the final. “We are hoping for an inspiring performance from the boys in the final,” said Orissa coach Subodh Jena.

Bengal coach Ananta Ghosh was confident of maintaining their undefeated status in the meet. “If the boys don’t waste too many chances, we can win by a big margin,” Ghosh said.

A victory tomorrow will make it three-in-a-row for the hosts. On the other hand, this is Orissa’s second entry into the final.    

Calcutta, Jan. 16: 
Dipa Bera’s hattrick helped Bally Gramanchal drub Rampur 3-0 in the women’s football league today. Youth Footballers won 5-0 over Friends Organisation with goals from Sona Dey (2), Gitali Naha (2) and Gopa Haldar.

Charity match

Several former stars, including Krishanu Dey, Sudhir Karmakar, Goutam Sarkar and Jamshed Nassiri, turned out for Calcutta Superstar’s XI in an exhibition football match against Belghoria XI today. The match ended goalless with Karmakar being adjudged Man of the Match.

The match was organised by Belghoria Sports Lovers’ Association in aid of the Orissa cyclone victims and Rs 7,501 was handed over to state labour minister Shanti Ghatak.    

Calcutta, Jan. 16: 
Three teams — B-40, A-42 and A-21 — were credited with the day’s best score (45 points) in the Royal Challenge Invitational Golf Cup at RCGC today.

Team B-40 comprises K. Bakshi and Dusyant Singh, A-42 consists of R.K. Rungta and Prabhat Goenka while A-21 is made up of Rachpal Singh and Soma Roy.

The A-41 pair of A. Nanda and S. Nath recorded the second-best score of 44, with the A-07 duo of Ravi Deyand and J.R. Agarwal managing 43. Others teeing off included Lakshman Singh.    

Mumbai, Jan. 16 
In a close finish, Great Investment beat the odds-on favourite Saddle Up to win the 2,000m Magnasound Millennium Eclipse Stakes of India in Mumbai on Sunday. Aslam Kader partnered the Arti Doctor-trained four-year-old to victory.

RESULTS (With inter-state dividends)

1. Aztec Plate 1,800m: (5-2-3) Amorosa (Kader) 1; Fortune’s Wheel 2; Along All 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-55.2). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 11; 17; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 89. Fav: Amorosa (5).

2. Endurance Stakes 2,400m: (3-7-2) He’s My Dasher (M. Narredu) 1; Poem Of Joy 2; Cocktail 3. Not run: Great Pasha (1). Won by: 1-3/4; 1-1/2; (2-38.9). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 10; 45; 16; Quinella: 155; Tanala: 745. Fav: He’s My Dasher (3).

3. So Splendid Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (3-2-8) Elusive Charm (Kadam) 1; Brave Venture 2; Money Magic 3. Won by: Nk; 2-1/4; (1-8.3). Tote: Win Rs 91; Place: 25; 19; 91; Quinella: 301; Tanala: 40,827. Fav: Minneapolis (7).

4. Lady Madonna Plate 1,100m: (1-4-7) Cafe Noire (Aaron) 1; Gay Minstrel 2; Streaking Senorita 3. Won by: Nk; 6-1/2; (1-6.6). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 16; 18; 21; Quinella: 50; Tanala: 296. Fav: Cafe Noire (1).

5. Astonish Trophy 1,200m: (1-7-4) Indiscretion (M. Narredu) 1; Prince Nicholas 2; Amusing 3. Won by: SH; 2-1/2; (1-12). Tote: Win Rs 41; Place: 16; 13; 27; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 344. Fav: Prince Nicholas (7).

6. Mehra and Usha Stud Juvenile Million 1,000m: (3-7-4) Feel The Force (Gallagher) 1; Lady Moura 2; Moment Of Truth 3. Won by: 1/2; 2-1/4; (1-1). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 16; 31; 30; Quinella: 233; Tanala: 2,978. Fav: Feel The Force (3).

7. Magnasound Millennium Eclipse Stakes of India 2,000m: (8-1-4) Great Investment (Kader) 1; Saddle Up 2; Armoury 3. Won by: Nk; 5-1/2; (2-4.5). Tote: Win Rs 51; Place: 19; 13; 60; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 1,630. Fav: Saddle Up (1). (Note: The winner survived objection lodged by the rider of the second placed horse).

8. Euphemia Plate 1,000m: (7-14-12) Celestial Light (Chauhan) 1; Peace March 2; Charging Bullet 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 5; (1-1.1). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 14; 53; 92; Quinella: 276; Tanala: 20,242. Fav: Resplendence (1).

9. Sol Splendid Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (10-4-3) Omerta (Jadhav) 1; Spur Of The Moment 2; Sure Flash 3. Won by: SH; Nk; (1-8.8). Tote: Win Rs 237; Place: 37; 44; 39; Quinella: 2,051; Tanala: 91,003. Fav: Hearts In Motion (7).

Jackpot: Rs 2,08,810; (C) Rs 1,048.

Treble: (i) Rs 244; (ii) Rs 264; (iii) Rs 4,079.    

Calcutta, Jan. 16: 
Six well-bred juveniles have lined up for the Wed-nesday’s star event, the Indian Champagne Stakes. There are six events on the cards and the first race starts at 1.15 pm.


1. Victo Handicap 1,400m (Cl V, 5-y-o & over Rt. 0-28) 1.15 pm: Ansedonia 61; Single Dawn 58; Carabineer 54; Aristotemus 52; Age Of Miracles 51.5; Tribal Warlord 48.

2. Chettinad Republic Cup 1,600m (Cl I; Rt.88 & over) 1.55 pm: Giorgio 60; Kaizen 60; Arendal 59; Bold Invader 58.5; Kansai 57; Swash Buckle 47.

3. Baqlava Cup 2,000m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 2.25 pm: Milano 60; Sharp Sensation 57; Acadameus 53; Charlene 47.

4. Navy Cup 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 3 pm: Ironstone 60; A Ma Dats’E 59; Celtic Bleu 58.5; Friendly Knight 54.5; Golden Express 53; Infierno 51.

5. Indian Champagne Stakes 1,400m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 3.35 pm: Airs Image 57; Analogy 57; No Regrets 57; Soviet Port 57; Aracruz 55.5; Endless Surprise 55.5.

6. Vibrant Handicap 1,200m: (Cl V; Rt. 00-28) 4.10 pm: Dramatic Turn 60; Piece Of Cake 59; Swingtime 56.5; Knight Charmer 54.5; Skitop 49.5; Tabasco King 47.5; Noble Can-onire 47.5; Dancing Gypsy 47.5.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.


Outer sand track

1.600m: Aflicker (Rb) in 2-5s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 31 3/5s. Rasy.

1,400m: Giorgio (Rb) in 1-48s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 31s. Easy.

800m: Arendal (C. Alford) and Quizargo (Surender) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Former too good. Alterezza (Surender) and Analogy (C. Alford) 54s; (400m) 26s. Former better.    


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