India to battle for survival vs Pak
How would they react had we forfeited innings?
Speed always has been an attraction, says Shoaib
Kapil stresses on infrastructure
Two share lead after Day I
A hole-in-one for the lead
Bounty Bay has the edge
Only 4 for Bankersí Cup tomorrow
Too Soon To Tell shines
Allaire wins her second ĎMillioní

Hobart, Jan. 20 
Australia did India one big favour by taking Pakistan to the cleaners last night. Now, the Indians themselves must build on that Ďopeningí if they are to be competitive in the Carlton and United Series.

It is, after all, much easier when one of the three teams roars ahead, instead of two being in front by width of the River Derwent, which divides enchanting Hobart into two, and more.

Of course, the Indians are still to open account, while Pakistan have logged four points, but a win tomorrow and the race for who qualifies as team No. 2 ó going by the tournamentís early trend ó will finally get underway.

That Pakistan allowed Australia, specifically Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer, to turn certain defeat into an incredible Test victory at this very Bellerive Oval (in November), is bound to hang like an albatross around Wasim Akramís neck.

But, then, the need to settle scores at a ground among the most picturesque anywhere could also add to the usual Pakistani josh whenever they face India.

A combination of josh , raw guts and some luck helped Pakistan snatch both points off India, in their first encounter, at the Gabba. However, Sachin Tendulkar insisted that last-ball loss wonít be on his teamís mind.

ďI accept we havenít won any match, but this week-long break has helped put the past behind us ... We took a couple of days off cricket entirely and I think thatís worked well ... That Pakistan lost yesterday has brought us back in the frame.Ē

The captainís body language indicated India could well be back in business. In reaching for the initiative, the Indians may surprise even their most ardent backers. Belatedly, but ...

Akram, the first to claim 400 one-day wickets, didnít offer a detailed comment beyond saying the game was important for both teams. He skipped the late-evening workout, preferring to rest.

ďIím feeling feverish and the body is quite stiff,Ē Akram, a diabetic told The Telegraph. But he quickly added: ďIíll play, thatís for sure.Ē Akramís tone, though, suggested taking the field will require an effort.

Incidentally, Akram had taken ill on the eve of last Aprilís tri-series final in Bangalore (against India) as well. Then, of course, his diabetes had played up. Akram, however, did play.

Indeed, itís unthinkable for a Pakistan captain to miss an India match. Just as one canít imagine Sachin pulling out of a game versus Pakistan. No matter what the public posture, an Indo-Pak match isnít just any other game.

Indications are that we could see a cracker of a match. Not merely because itís become crucial with a capital C, but the wicket looks a belter and the Bellerive Oval itself isnít anywhere near amphitheatre-status. Very charming, yes, but not intimidating like the MCG.

ďLook at scores beyond 250,Ē opined Ďplayer-bureaucratí Mark Ridgway: He opens Tasmaniaís attack and is also the Tasmanian Cricketís Associationís sales and promotions manager.

But for the script to unfold that way, the opening partnerships will be decisive.

Pakistan are undecided on who should partner Saeed Anwar. Ijaz Ahmed got them off to a flyer, yesterday, but itís largely seen as a stop-gap arrangement. As Azhar Mehmood appears to have aggravated an old groin problem, itís possible Pakistan will rest him and bring back opener Mohammed Waseem.

Waseem, it may be recalled, posted an impressive 91 in innings No. 1 of the Hobart Test, two months ago.

As for the Indians, Sachin will bat down the order if the team has first strike. But if India are chasing, Sachin will open with his deputy Sourav Ganguly. In the first scenario, Souravís partner will be V.V.S. Laxman.

Jacob Martin returns to the XI, in place of Devang Gandhi, while the other change could have seen former vice-captain Anil Kumble being dropped. Instead, Nikhil Chopra will make way for Debashish Mohanty. Mohanty, who never quite lost spirit, at last gets a look-in.

Both Kumble and Chopra are in the XII, formally announced late this evening, but the veteran will stay and not pay the price for some indifferent bowling. Apparently, that one tight-fisted over, in the closing stages during the Gabba game, saved Kumble.

Officially, the XI will only be declared in the morning ó tomorrow is Indiaís sole day match ó but before that is tonightís team dinner. And the tab will be picked up by the Ďbowlersí who lost to the Ďbattersí in a breaking-the-stump friendly organised by coach Kapil Dev.

ďFinding them a little short on enthusiasm, I just thought of doing something different (yesterday) ... Two Ďteamsí were formed and the boys enjoyed every minute,Ē remarked Kapil, who has done everything to prevent the teamís morale from plunging.

In fact, towards that end, tonightís dinner ó the wives of Robin Singh and Sunil Joshi were asked to choose the venue ó couldnít have been better timed.

The players may not discuss exactly how to tackle Shoaib Akhtar or just how to curb the low-profile but brilliant Abdul Razzaq, but (relaxed) time together on the eve of the big game can do no harm.

With so much at stake, nerves may again come into play. The more relaxed team, then, will definitely have the edge. Significantly, one or two spells of rain have been forecast and, today, it was blustery throughout.

So, we may have to contend with the wind factor as well.

Both teams, by the way, will have some desi support ó Hobart (population of about 1.5 lakh) has around 35 Indian and 25 Pakistani families. Insignificant by standards back home but, for Tasmaniaís capital city, that itself is some presence.

Till this evening, tickets for the 11,500-capacity Bellerive Oval were available.    

Englandís victory in the final Test match will no doubt make them feel that all is not lost with their cricket. It would even encourage some in the media there to suggest that with a bit of luck they could have won the series.

The big discussion, though, would be about the forfeiting of the South African innings that allowed England the opportunity to win the game in the last over of the match. Declarations are made by captains to take advantage of the situation for their side, though it is hard to understand how the South African captain expected in the absence of Allan Donald to dismiss England in the overs left.

England havenít exactly distinguished themselves on this trip, but they improved and it would have taken an extraordinary effort to lose the game.

There is an incredibly stupid desire on the part of many overseas players to try and get kudos from the English media and the authorities and it must be said that some of the most lucrative contracts for cricket are in England and a lot of effort is therefore made to keep the English happy.

If the same forfeiture had been made by a team from the sub-continent, there would have been a big uproar and shouts of the match being fixed would have come from the same media which will now heap kudos on Hansie Cronje for keeping the game alive.

It was much the same reaction when Pakistan lost to Bangladesh and allegations were made about the game being fixed while not a word was said when South Africa lost to their neighbours Zimbabwe.

It is these double standards that are the problem and the sooner the so-called developed world realises that they do not have a monopoly on integrity the better it will be. If that was the case should we not have a completely crime-free society in a developed country? Since that is hardly the case the sooner they realise the danger in pointing a finger at others the better, for the time to turn the other cheek is long gone.

The reactions in India after the current series about the Australian umpiring was simply because the cricket lovers saw for themselves what was happening and realised what the Indian teams are faced with.

This has been the story for a long time but has not been told, because the people who covered the games were happy not to upset the Australian and the English establishment. And the media from overseas were allowed to get away by propagating the myth that it was the Indian umpiring and not the Indian team that was the main reason for their defeat.

True the Australians have been quite the superior side, but there was a time in the first Test before those decisions that India were in a position from where the game could have been balanced.

And here one is not talking about those that went against our batsmen but those that our bowlers had to suffer which allowed the Australians to recover. All these decisions come when the match is delicately poised and helps to tilt the balance the other way. It has happened in the past and not just this tour but the top technical TV coverage has made people aware now, and thank god for it.

That is the only sub-standard factor of Australian cricket. The facilities at the ground for the spectators and for the players are undoubtedly unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

The thoughts of the captain and the coach of the Indian team regarding the schedule and the travelling involved should make the Board realise that there needs to be an input from them in future scheduling and programming.


Hobart, Jan. 20 
Clearly, he is cricketís hottest property. Fear, envy... Shoaib Akhtar does attract many emotions. Headlines, too. And, going by what one has been seeing, he is bowling as many maidens off-the-field as batsmen on it.

Indeed, itís just about impossible to corner Shoaib and speak without interruption for some length of time. Invariably, Shoaib himself has many things on his mind: Calls to return, a cassette to watch... Some purely personal thoughts as well.

Therefore, it took some effort for The Telegraph to talk to him for 15 minutes this evening. Understandably, anything ďtoo controversialĒ was avoided. Had Shoaib not been pressed for time, he would probably have answered a few more questions.

Following are excerpts

On his background

I have three elder brothers and a younger sister... A simple family, really, and we stay in Rawalpindi. I took to cricket like all other youngsters... Began playing in the mohalla. Then, at school and college... Uske baad, club mein main khelna laga. The selectors noticed me after I began playing for Rawalpindi.

On his idols

Wasimbhai and Waqar.

On whether, at any time, the sweat and tears that fast bowlers must put in discouraged him

(Laughs) Kabhi nahin... Speed has always been an attraction. I even drive fast... swim fast, too.

On being regarded the fastest on the circuit

More than being considered the fastest, that Iíve been able to play international cricket is alone like a dream come true... But, at times, abhi bhi khwab jaisa lagta hai... Whatever success Iíve achieved, the adulation... Support during the recent controversy.

On whether touching the 100 mph mark is an obsession

I wouldnít say so... Agar hona hai, to 100 mph zaroor record hoyega... Taqdeer ki baat hai... Itís like this, more than speed Iím concerned about my performance. At the same time, my performance depends on speed.

On how much of the effort is physical, and just how much is it in the mind

Physical effort to aap saab ko dikh jaata hai... Itís adjusting in the mind and getting it to co-ordinate with the body thatís very important. No two wickets are exactly the same. Equally, no two grounds will be absolutely similar. Fast bowling isnít simply a physical exercise.

On whether he feels sorry for the batsmen who get hit (Sourav Ganguly has been a Ďvictimí)

(Laughs again) But, why should I? Main koi mazaak ke liye nahin khelta. Itís serious business and I have a job to do. I canít start to feel sorry if somebody is struck. The batsmen, too, have a serious job to perform.

On the pressure-factor

I look at it differently ó that I have a responsibility... Thatís not pressure. In any case, pressure tab hota hai when you keep thinking about it. Like Iíve said, I accept I have a responsibility. Thatís it.

On his thoughts as he turns at the top of his run-up

That I should get the batsman and it shouldnít be the other way around. Honestly, if Iím hit, bahut gussa aata hai...

On whether the yorkers which got Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, at the Eden last year, remain his best deliveries

Among the best, yes... Also, Sherwin Campbellís dismissal in our opening World Cup game... Stephen Flemingís, too, in the semi-final... Then, a couple of wickets in the Durban Test (1998).

On where conditions have been most helpful

Iím not very choosy, but Australia is different. The bounce, movement off the seam... The run-up turf shouldnít be rock-hard, that about is the only thing Iím finicky about. If it is, getting into rhythm could be a problem.

On whether he fears being overbowled at Nottinghamshire

As I see it, the exposure can only be of benefit. Is age mein, agar zyada bowling nahin karoonga, to kab karoonga? There may be times when I could feel tired, but bottomline is Iíll gain... If I may add, I donít know why people have been talking about Notts being worried about my action. If Notts have a worry, itís that I could be called-up for national duty (during the summer).

On adjusting to Tests and one-dayers

Personally, I quite prefer one-day cricket... Perhaps, it has something to do with the pace... The atmosphere, a guaranteed result... Maaza aata hai.

On Brett Lee

(Grins) Heís good... Fast? Yes, he is, but let him first clock 97mph, the maximum I touched in the World Cup. Uske baad dekha jayega.

On whether, frankly, he expected the ICC to review and lift his ban

Absolutely. Iíve never felt thereís anything wrong with my action... No umpire has called me. Of course, I was thrilled when the ban was lifted.

On saving a kid from being run over after the match versus India at the Gabba

Too much has been made of it. Somebody else, too, would have reacted the same way.

On how he unwinds

Listening to Kishore Kumar and Kumar Sanu songs... They help relax... Lots of sleep as well... Iím also quite fond of watching Hindi movies, specially the ones starring Aishwarya Rai... (Adds laughing) Could you convey to her Iím a fan of hers?

Finally, on emerging international cricketís latest pin-up hero

(Smiles) Iím certainly not a playboy... Aap kya bol rahen hain? Iím a simple person: Neither a playboy nor controversial.    

Hobart, Jan. 20 
While favouring the preparation of (turning) wickets to suit Indiaís strength, back home, coach Kapil Dev would like the ones used in purely domestic cricket to help both pacers and spinners.

Indiaís next home series, against South Africa, begins in the last week of February.

ďEvery country prepares wickets to help its attack... Itís a worldwide phenomenon and thereís nothing wrong. However, to prepare our cricketers for all surfaces, domestic cricket must be played on wickets which wonít either be flat or just assist spinners,Ē Kapil remarked this afternoon.

Speaking after the teamís workout, at the Bellerive Oval, Kapil added: ďOnce thatís done our batsmen, specially, wonít feel totally out of place when playing overseas...Ē And, pointing to the beautiful practice surface, said: ďJust look at it, the bounce is as true as it probably will be out in the middle.Ē

Kapil felt the playersí exposure alone to such excellent facilities, indoors and outdoors across Australia, would be one gain from this trip.

ďTheyíve seen the infrastructural support players here have and it would be wonderful if that was available at home as well... Our administrators, who have done a fine job of marketing, should now look at the facilities offered. Also, everything has to be throughout India, not in one or two venues only.Ē

Kapil opined the Board should directly associate itself with the game in schools and colleges. ďThatís our nursery... Let kids grow with the benefit of the best infrastructure.Ē

Of course, Kapil repeated something he has been saying all these years: that the outfields, in India, should encourage fielders to dive. ďYou know, quite a few of the boys have only learnt to dive on this tour... They ought to have perfected it years ago.Ē

But, then, weíve been lagging behind isnít it?    

Calcutta, Jan. 20 
Mrs Shukla Sen and C.Z. Ghafoor, with 43 stableford points, led the field on the opening day of the Wills Tolly Cup corporate golf meet. In all 152 golfers, including national cricket selector Ashok Malhotra, teed off.

Saturdayís stars

Former India all-rounder Karsan Ghavri will be the first star to tee-off on Day III. Ghavri and three others will tee-off at 11.40 am. Former batsman Gundappa Viswanath and wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani will also be in action Saturday.    

Calcutta, Jan. 20 
The dayís best score at the Royal Challenge invitation golf cup was exciting enough, with Ram Adige of Team No. A-19, partnering Renuka Philips, shooting a hole-in-one on the par-three 13th. The scored 44 over the Royal Calcutta Golf Club course.

Teams A-40, A-29 and B-25 followed at 43 points.    

Bangalore, Jan. 20 
The two horses likely to fight out the finish of the F. K. Irani Memorial Cup, tomorrow, are Diamond Tiara and Bounty Bay. However the latter, a Taraporvala- ward with Rajesh to guide, may topple Diamond Tiara who is bad at the gates.


3 pm: Innerleithen 1. Squeeze 2. Royal Glare 3.

3.30 pm: Career Collection 1. Pride Estates 2. Eyewitness 3.

4 pm: Bounty Bay 1. Diamond Tiara 2. Sun Hawk 3.

4.30 pm: North Ridge 1. Fair Generation 2. Sir Winmor 3.

5 pm: Niveditha 1. Fabulously Bold 2. Chity Bang 3.

5.30 pm: Seize The Day 1. Sterling Prospect 2. Open Arms 3.

Dayís Best: Career Collection Double: Bounty Bay & Seize The Day    

Calcutta, Jan. 20 
Only four thoroughbreds make the line-up in Saturdayís star event, the 2,000m American Express Indian Champion Cup, sponsored by American Express Bank, a leading player in the commercial banking services. First race starts at 1.10 pm. ACCEPTANCES

1. Scottish Law Handicap 1,600m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 1.10 pm: Magic Fountain 60.5; Assyrian 55; Persuasion 54.5; Golden Express 50.5; Black Mane 48; Carabineer 47.

2. Galstaun Cup 1,200m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 1.50 pm: Absolute Performer 58.5; Rock Falcon 58.5; Act Of Kindness 55; Atta Son 55; Alterezza 53.5; Anntari 53.5; Golden Heart 53.5; Ingleside 53.5; Madame X 53.5; Software 53.5.

3. Pearson Surita Memorial Cup 2,000m (Cl II; Rt. 66-94) 2.25 pm: Astrajoy 60; Allosaki 58; Majestic Star 56; Classic Leader 56; Master Charlie 47.5.

4. American Express Indian Champion Cup 2,000m (Terms, 4-y-o & over) 3 pm: Allied Forces 57.5; Arendal 57.5; Kaizen 57.5; Super Sunrise 57.5.

5. Glasgow Courser Trophy 1,400m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 3.35 pm: Mountain Memory 60; Scimitar 59.5; Aquaria 59.5; Kaizer Sozay 57; Super Smile 55.5; Classic Wonder 54.5; Precious Dreams 53.

6. Sreepriya Cup 1,200m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.10 pm: Amanda 60; Ocean Sunset 59.5; Hurricane Star 59; Floral Path 57.5; Kargil Soldier 55.5; Aileron 52; Infierno 49.

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

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

Calcutta, Jan 20 
Too Soon To Tell was pick of the lot when the following horses were seen exercising today morning: Outer sand track

1,400m: Dizzy Diver (Amil) in 1-50s; (800m) 1-6s; (400m) 33s. Easy.

800m: Super Smile (C. Alford) in 54s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Good. Too Soon To Tell (Islam) and Classic Wonder (Rb) in 55s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former head better. Staffordshire (Islam) and Double Dancer (M. Reuben) in 55s; (400m) 27 1/5s. Former neck better. A Million Memories (Bird) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Easy.

600m: Jayaashva (Razzak) and Art Smart (Yacoob) in 41s; (400m) 27s. Former 4 ls better. Consulís Secret (Razzak) in 43s; (400m) 29s.

Sand track

600m: No. 10 (M. Reuben) in 39s; (400m) 24 4/5s. Easy.    

Ridden by Aslam Kader, the D. Byramji-trained three-year-old filly Allaire won the Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Million in Mumbai on Thursday. Results

(With inter-state dividends)

1. L. M. Motee Plate 1,600m: (5-9-2) The Silken Thomas (Hamir) 1; Fire Girl 2; Share The Spirit 3. Won by: 1-1/2; Hd; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 20; 18; 14; Quinella: 165; Tanala: 502. Fav: Share The Spirit (2).

2. P. D. díAvoine Stakes 2,400m: (2-6-4) Heís My Dasher (Rajendra) 1; Red Rock 2; Sensational 3. Won by: 1-1/4; SH; (2-39.4). Tote: Win Rs 109; Place: 47; 67; Quinella: 454; Tanala: 4,398. Fav: Picasso (1).

3. Rosamund Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (4-6-1) Classic Hanovar (Kamlesh) 1; Reactor 2; Flirtatious 3. Won by: 3/4; 3/4; (1-29.5). Tote: Win Rs 206; Place: 29; 21; 151; Quinella: 805; Tanala: 58,799. Fav: Amistad (2).

4. Florescence Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (6-1-2) Maltese Falcon (Johnson) 1; Piabo 2; Star Rock 3. Won by: 4-3/4; Hd; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 19; 24; 24; Quinella: 111; Tanala: 1,481. Fav: Maltese Falcon (6).

5. Florescence Plate, Div, II 1,200m: (6-2-9) Immaculate (Hamir) 1; Agni Sikha 2; Big Wish 3. Won by: 3/4; Nk; (1-15.5). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 15; 14; 25; Quinella: 45; Tanala: 301. Fav: Immaculate (6).

6. Recardo Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (10-9-11) Oh So Quick (Kharadi) 1; Merry Millennium 2; Way Beyond 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 13; 14; 125; Quinella: 39; Tanala: 2,051. Fav: Oh So Quick (10).

7. Recardo Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (7-1-9) Anagram (Kader) 1; Awesome Foursome 2; Krishna Priya 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 5-1/2; (1-14.1). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 10; 13; 29; Quinella: 16; Tanala: 156. Fav: Anagram (7).

8. Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Million 1,400m: (3-7-6) Allaire (Kader) 1; Starry Scene 2; Prabhuti 3. Won by: Nk; 7-1/2; (1-26.2). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 10; 18; 23; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 132. Fav: Allaire (3).

9. Thunder Bird Plate 1,400m: (15-8-7) Aries Rocket (Prakash) 1; Iím Honoured 2; Bearer Bond 3. Won by: 3/4; 3/4; (1-26.5). Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 13; 82; 27; Quinella: 673; Tanala: 8,942. Fav: Aries Rocket (15).

10. Rosamund Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (3-7-9) Always Up (Eddery) 1; Bonjour Tristesse 2; Salsa Dancer 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 1-3/4; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 22; 27; Quinella: 63; Tanala: 478. Fav: Always Up (3).

Jackpot: Rs 517; (C) Rs 77.

Treble: (i) Rs 10,725; (ii) Rs 186; (iii) Rs 81.    


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