S. Africa complete innings win for 2-0 sweep
SA more stable now: Cronje
Bengal snatch lead
Pitches panel back on track
Tough clash for EB
Eastern Railway win
Reddy stretched
No clemency for Bagan: Velappan
IFA court action will be illegal
Legal Steps, Affliction impress

 
 
S. AFRICA COMPLETE INNINGS WIN FOR 2-0 SWEEP 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Bangalore, March 6 
INDIA 158, 250-SOUTH AFRICA 479 MoM: Boje MoS: Kallis

In an ‘enlightened’ move, the Board rushed a psychologist on the eve of the Test here. A better idea would probably have been a session with Azim Premji, the richest Indian ever.

It’s important to aim big, get there and, just as crucial, stay there. Today, that drive is lacking in Indian cricket. And, today, there’s nobody better qualified than Premji, Bangalore’s favourite son, to try and instil that.

With the innings-and-71-run loss this morning in the second and final Pepsi Test, making it five defeats on-the-trot (two with an innings’ margin), it’s really the lowest we can sink. That we can’t sink deeper is hardly of comfort.

Resuming at 196 for five, the Indian second innings folded — Nayan Mongia didn’t bat — within an hour on the fifth day. That gave South Africa a fantastic away-series win and forced the first home defeat on India in 13 years.

Coincidentally it was at the Chinnaswamy, when current coach Kapil Dev was captain, that India last lost a home series — to Imran Khan’s Pakistan. The wicket then was an absolute minefield, but the same can’t be said about the one prepared this time by Kasturirangan.

The world regards Indians as the best players of spin — an assessment endorsed by Shane Warne — but it’s the two-Test-young Nicky Boje, who only made the tour after Paul Adams’ pullout, who spun out India. The left-arm spiiner had a a match haul of seven for 93 (five for 83 in innings No. 2).

Coupled with his superb 85 as nightwatchman, Boje was the unanimous Man of the Match. It would have been different had Mohammed Azharuddin, who completed his 22nd hundred in scintillating fashion (racing from 73 to 100 in 18 deliveries), continued the excellent work.

Instead Azhar got out hooking on 102 (227 minutes, 170 deliveries, 13x4, 2x6), ending slim hopes of forcing a draw. Even the possibility of avoiding an innings defeat, in Sachin Tendulkar’s last Test as captain, got eliminated.

Later, Hansie Cronje admitted “there was some tension” in the South African dressing-room, before play began, as “Azhar could have taken the game away.” He added: “It wasn’t an easy wicket, yet Azhar looked so comfortable.”

In fact, at the Media conference, Sachin was pointedly asked whether Azhar got out (intentionally, it was implied) after having proved a point (marking his comeback with a hundred). Sachin, though, firmly sprang to the former captain’s defence: “That’s unfair... We should applaud and back him. Why talk negatively after a hundred?”

An on-drive off Shaun Pollock was Azhar’s first aggressive shot of the day. Then, he picked on Boje.

Using his feet to explosive effect, Azhar sent the left-arm spinner over mid-wicket. Next, playing inside-out, Azhar smashed Boje through extra cover and, to rub it in, sent him past the mid-wicket rope. That sequence of 6, 4, 4 took Azhar to 98.

The hundred, Azhar’s first since 103 not out in Wellington (December 1998), was posted via a couple off Pollock. It was, typically, marked by timing which comes with supple wrists and a great eye. But, soon enough, Azhar exited.

In partnership with the cool Anil Kumble, however, Azhar put on 96 for the sixth wicket. Significantly, the best (for India) in the series. This one piece of statistic alone should explain why it was such a disaster.

Azhar was followed by Kumble who, till he offered pad and not bat to Boje, was unflustererd by pace and spin. One isn’t sure exactly what Kapil has been emphasising, but he should immediately instruct players to play with the bat not pad.

Murali Karthik and Nikhil Chopra, supposedly an allrounder, got out cheaply and with Mongia not being pressed into action — “just too dehydrated” explained physio-cum-trainer Andrew Leipus — the series ended in an anti-climax.

Nobody out in the middle, after all, was quite sure whether Mongia would take guard. He would have, had it been a close finish. And, so, the dash for stumps (as souvenirs) was sans the customary zeal and the high-fives and embracing was all pretty low-key.

But as an achievement, South Africa’s 2-0 win will rank among their most outstanding. “It’s there, at the top,” remarked a beaming Cronje, whose stature as captain has grown a few notches.

Under Cronje’s leadership, South Africa ended 1999 as the most successful Test team. Their start to 2000 has been just as phenomenal — a series win over England (at home) and now, big success in India. Incidentally, the team is richer with a Rands 500,000 (the equivalent of around Rs 35 lakh) bonus.

Left to swallow a huge disappointment, Sachin lamented his team only produced “some” individual performances. “The difference with South Africa is stark — they performed as a team...”

Having lost the Mumbai Test in under three days, India couldn’t have won the series. But, it could at least have been squared. Yet, an excellent break was frittered away when, after winning the toss, the Indians allowed themselves to be bowled out for 158 on the opening day.

The series was lost that Thursday afternoon itself.

Bad enough as that Day I show was, two jumbo partnerships (161 between Gary Kirsten- Boje and 164 between Man of the Series Jacques Kallis-Lance Klusener) allowed South Africa the luxury of a 321-run cushion.

The die was cast then itself. Only, had the Indians applied themselves, the loss wouldn’t have been equated with a rout. A miracle — “miracles do happen,” Sachin pointed out — could even have seen an extraordinary draw.

“Perhaps, we lacked commitment,” the outgoing captain opined. There are many takers for that, specially as South Africa’s discipline stands out. At the same time, we also just weren’t good enough.

Beaten on a home wicket (Wankhede) with some juice, thrashed on a turner. He may not admit it, but Sourav Ganguly could well be having nightmares.

For his part, Sachin appealed to fans to “back Sourav and the team, at a difficult time, and be patient.” There was a hint of emotion when he said that. It must also have been an emotional moment when Sachin took off the captain’s crest, from his blazer, and handed it to Sourav. Knowing Sachin it’s unlikely he will, in the near future, again accept the responsibility.

Asked by The Telegraph whether he was relieved a painful phase (beginning December, in Adelaide) had ended, Sachin shrugged and replied: “I wouldn’t put it that way... These things go with the job... There will be phases when the character is tested...”

Sachin, of course, is backing himself — and the team — to come out winners.    


 
 
SA MORE STABLE NOW: CRONJE 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Bangalore, March 6 
In Mumbai itself, Hansie Cronje and Graham Ford generally let it be known that winning the Test series, in India, was their top goal for the season. Today, it has been accomplished.

At the Media conference, then, even Ford smiled — for once, not appearing to be only focussed on the job at hand.

In contrast, Kapil Dev had a sullen look and Sachin Tendulkar, making his last appearance as captain, didn’t appear too enthusiastic about interacting.

To an extent, that was understandable.

Following are excerpts of what the two captains and Man-of-the-Match Nicky Boje said:

HANSIE CRONJE: As I’ve been pointing out, we’ve been playing tremendous cricket for the past 18-20 months and our success in India is a just reward. In this period, specially, we’ve grown from strength to strength... We set out with two objectives — bowl India out cheaply and bat with application. We did both... The 2-0 scoreline suggests it was very easy but, considering how close it was in Mumbai (four wickets), it wasn’t so. Even this morning, we felt Azhar could take the game away... Today (compared to 1996-97), though, we are a more mature and stable side. Nowadays, we can absorb pressure, and that’s making a difference... No, I never thought of declaring here, didn’t want to take any risk... Yes, I haven’t been getting runs but, when that happens, one seeks to contribute in other ways — bowling, captaincy...

SACHIN TENDULKAR: I’m not complaining about the wickets, we were let down by our batting. So many of us got 20s and 30s... Then, there wasn’t a single century partnership... Yes, there were a few individual performances, but that alone never helps... Anil, of course, bowled very well both in Mumbai and here... Approach alone doesn’t always make a difference, there are times when luck is needed... We capped four players in the two Tests (Wasim Jaffer, Murali Karthik, Mohammed Kaif and Nikhil Chopra)... Once we play youngsters, we should give them opportunities and be patient... Karthik showed lots of character and Kaif was very impressive... How do I look back on my captaincy? That’s a closed chapter... I don’t wish to talk about it... Today, I just want to relax and focus on the one-day Internationals.

NICKY BOJE: It’s been a tremendous team effort... Besides, I think I showed I should have been in the original tour party (instead of making it as Paul Adams’ replacement)... It was important to get the line right, as also the pace. I worked hard at both, from right after the Mumbai Test, and it helped.    


 
 
BENGAL SNATCH LEAD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 6 
BENGAL 316 & 75/1 KARNATAKA 268

Utpal Chatterjee continued to knock back the wickets as Bengal grabbed first innings lead in their Ranji Super League tie against Karnataka at the Eden Gardens today. Overnight 119 for three in reply to Bengal’s 316, the visitors folded up for 268 six minutes before the scheduled tea-break. By stumps, the hosts had added 75 to the 48-run lead for the loss of Alokendu Lahiri’s wicket.

Only the final day of this crucial tie remains, but it may well turn out to be an exciting one because both teams now need to press for victory —- Karnataka to salvage lost ground and Bengal to ensure that qualification to the knockout stage is not left for the final set of matches in this tough group.

If the hosts are in a position to call the shots, most of the credit must go to their skipper. Utpal had Karnataka bowing to his left-arm spin, and if the visitors managed to keep the lead low, it was thanks to a 54-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Dodda Ganesh and Venkatesh Prasad.

Six wickets in the Karnataka innings has now taken his Ranji tally for the season to 48, three more than the Bengal record held by Chetan Sharma since 1993-94. It was his fifth haul of five or more wickets this season and 21st overall.

Utpal, coming on at the High Court end after two overs of off-spin from Sourashis Lahiri, made the breakthrough this morning when he had Barrington Rowland edging a defensive plod to Nikhil Haldipur in the slips.

Rowland, who had by then added 59 for the fourth wicket with A. Vijay, top-scored for the visitors with 53.

Vijay was the next to go, refusing to see the danger and pull-driving Devang Gandhi straight to Vishal Yadav at mid-wicket. K.N. Ramesh left soon after, Haldipur holding a sharp chance at short gully as the debutant drove on-the-rise. It was a poor stroke and, at 157 for six, Bengal were in control.

A 21-run partneship between skipper Sunil Joshi and B. Akhil was just beginning to blossom when Abdul Masood produced a very good delivery to knock back Akhil’s stumps. Joshi and Dodda Ganesh added 24 before Joshi padded up to one from Utpal and was declared leg-before, a decision that he was very unhappy with.

The Karnataka skipper had to be told to leave the field by the umpires as he stood disputing the verdict.    


 
 
PITCHES PANEL BACK ON TRACK 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Bangalore, March 6 
The Board’s grounds and pitches committee will be back in action.

The committee, headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, was asked by Board secretary Jaywant Lele to “stay away” from the Chinnaswamy in the lead-up to the Test which ended today. According to well-placed sources, though, “things have been sorted out.”

In effect, the committee will then oversee the preparation of wickets during the five one-day Internationals between India and South Africa, beginning Thursday in Kochi.

Apparently the “sorting out” was done at a meeting this afternoon between the committee, Board president A.C. Muthiah and Lele. However, East’s Gopal Bose didn’t attend.

It’s significant that while the committee was asked to “stay away,” reportedly to facilitate the preparation of a wicket to favour India, Chinnaswamy curator Kasturirangan is himself on the committee! He is South’s representative.

One learns a move will be initiated, within the Board, to scrap this zonal representation and only have a three-member committee comprising those who actually prepare wickets — for instance, Kasturirangan and North’s Daljit Singh.

It’s a great idea, but will it ever be implemented?

Our Staff Reporter in Calcutta adds: Bose clarified he couldn’t attend today’s meeting in Bangalore as he was tied down by official work. “I had informed Srikkanth of my inability to go,” Bose said, adding that he would check with the former India opener how exactly things had been sorted out.    


 
 
TOUGH CLASH FOR EB 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 6 
With the marathon Coca-Cola National Football League into its home stretch, equations are getting clearer by the day. Just as Mohun Bagan have all but sealed up the title, East Bengal can at best hope for a top-six finish.

It’s with that goal in mind Subhash Bhowmick’s men will step on to the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow for a potentially tough clash with 1997 champions JCT. Full points will do nicely for East Bengal, who have no more than 25 from 19 matches.

JCT have a slightly higher ambition. The 30 points they have garnered thus far allows them to dream of a third-place finish, but with FC Kochin and Salgaocar stepping on the accelerator, the Phagwara millmen will have to make sure they don’t slip any further.

Neither East Bengal nor JCT will be at full strength, though, with both camps being plagued by key injuries. Three East Bengal regulars — Ranjan Dey, Ratan Singh and Dipankar Roy — got hurt during the 1-1 draw against ITI in Bangalore Saturday and didn’t practise today. Bhowmick would want them to play but if they can’t, Anit Ghosh, Chanchal Bhattacharya and Tushar Rakshit are likely to start.

JCT will miss Hardeep Sangha. The skillful playmaker aggravated an injury in the Mohun Bagan match and is not in a position to play tomorrow.

Coach Sukhwinder Singh is hoping that experienced defenders Daljit Singh and Prabhjyot Singh will be fit to start tomorrow. Neither played against Mohun Bagan and their absence was clearly felt in the 1-3 defeat.

The Ludhiana duel had produced a dull, goalless result with very few openings at either end. Neither team can afford such a lackadaisical approach tomorrow if they are to realise their current goals.    


 
 
EASTERN RAILWAY WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 6 
Eastern Railway swept past Garden Reach SA 3-0 in a women’s match of the Calcutta Volleyball League today. In other matches, South Eastern Railway brushed aside Khurut Dharmatala Barwari Samity 3-0, Santoshpur Unnayan Samity beat Tollygunge Subhas Sangha 3-0 and Sabuj Sathi tamed Bijoyee Sangha 3-2. It proved a most exciting match    

 
 
REDDY STRETCHED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 6 
Seventh seed Vasudev Reddy survived a scare before advancing to the second round of the Indian Oil-Servo senior national grasscourt championships at CC&FC today.

Reddy, a break down in the final set, overcame Vijayendra Laad 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 in the opening day’s most exciting match.

Top seed Nitin Kirtane allowed local boy Anand Radhakrishnan just two games, while No. 7 Saurav Panja beat qualifier Kedar Tembe 6-4, 6-3.Vinod Sewa succumbed in straight sets to Vijay Kannan.    


 
 
NO CLEMENCY FOR BAGAN: VELAPPAN 
 
 
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, March 6 
AFC secretary-general Peter Velappan today lambasted the AIFF for its sluggish and amateurish way of functioning. After a meeting with some AIFF officials Velappan said that several measures had been suggested to revamp the organisation of football in the country.

About the one-year ban and $ 3000 fine on Mohun Bagan for not hosting their Asian Club Championship match against Jubilo Iwata, Velappan said there will be no clemency. He added the ban and fine on East Bengal’s goalkeeping coach Tarun Bose for abusing officials during an Asian sub-junior championship match will stay.

Velappan said the National League should be played over six months. He stated that a three-month league with such a tight schedule will not improve the standards in India.

He advised the AIFF to prevent National League players from participating in local leagues and other domestic tournaments. These players, Velappan felt, should only play in the National League.

Velappan said there should be a centralised, fully functional AIFF office in Delhi, with three important officials. He asked the AIFF to appoint an administrative and communications manager, a technical technical development officer and also a finance officer. Audited accounts should be made available to the media annually.    


 
 
IFA COURT ACTION WILL BE ILLEGAL 
 
 
BY ELORA SEN
 
Calcutta, March 6 
The Indian Football Association (IFA) might do well not to get involved in any legal proceedings against its parent body — the All India Football Federation (AIFF) — to solve the payment dispute that is now the bone of contention.

In its general body meeting on February 24, a number of IFA members had vent their anger because the AIFF was yet to pay the National Football League and other dues amounting to nearly Rs 28 lakh.

The body had also unanimously agreed it would do everything possible to make the AIFF pay up, even if it meant going to court.

So far, a note of caution sounds in IFA secretary Ranjit Gupta’s voice — “It is not easy to take legal action against the parent body.”

According to the AIFF constitution, an affiliated body is not allowed to go to court against the parent organisation, and any wilful violation of the constitution could mean disaffiliation or cancellation of membership.

In the original AIFF constitution, the third and fourth clause of the membership rule (Rule 3) was clear on this. Clause III directed that a member must “refrain from initiating legal proceedings in a court of law for solving disputes, if any”. Clause IV added that in case of a dispute the member must “submit to arbitration, for adjudication of all disputes/ differences/ grievances.”

In 1992, a three-member committee, comprising Priya Ranjan Das Munshi (the present AIFF president), T.O. Abdulla and A.T. Vijayarangam amended the AIFF constitution and the amendments came into force from March 1993.

The amended version, too, was clear, if not more stronger. Rule 30 in the amended constitution reads: “Members (associations or boards) or their constituents are interdicted from invoking the jurisdiction of the courts of law in any matter concerning the game of football or its administration or disputes with the federation or with other members of the federation and their constituents and they shall agree to submit any such disputes to an arbitration tribunal constituted for the said purpose by the federation.”

Not only does AIFF has such directives, soccer’s governing body Fifa, too, does not believe in giving its affiliated units or members the freedom of going to court.    


 
 
LEGAL STEPS, AFFLICTION IMPRESS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, March 6 
Legal Steps, Affliction and Actress were impressive during the track work on Saturday:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Legal Steps (C. Alford) in 1-52 1/5s; (1,200m) 1-24s; (800m) 57 3/5s; (400m) 27 4/5s. Impressed. Audible (Rb) in 1-52s; (800m) 57 2/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Moved well.

1,400m: Actress (C. Alford) and Fame Star (Rb) in 1-42 3/5s; (400m) 28s. Both level. Little Boy Blue (Shanker) in 1-53s; (400m) 32 2/5s. Swingtime (Amjad K.) and Knight Charmer (Razzak) in 1-49 3/5s; (400m) 30 2/5s. Both level and easy. Animator (C. Alford) and Astoria (Rb) in 1-47 2/5s; (400m) 27s. Both were level and easy.

1,200m: Acadameus (Rb) in 1-26s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Affliction (C. Alford) and Analogy (Rb) in 1-25s; (400m) 29s. Both level. Marimba (Rb) and Alvarada (Rb) in 1-27s; (400m) 29s. Former a length better. Annalee (Rb) and Astrotot (Rb) in 1-31s; (400m) 29s. Former 2 ls better. Amarante (Rb) and All Heart (C. Alford) in 1-26s; (400m) 28s. Former 6 ls better.

1,000m: Charlene (M. Reuben) and Alternator (C. Alford) in 1-16s; (400m) 32s. Both level. Desert Force (Rutherford) and Prosperous (Gowli) in 1-12 2/5s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former far superior. Kargil Soldier (Kujur) and Scimitar (Smith) in 1-15s; (400m) 30s. Both were easy. Athletico (Rb) in 1-15s; (400m) 29s. Mystic Hill (Rb) in 1-16s; (400m) 31 2/5s. Global Harmony (Yacoob) and Sky Command (Man ohar) in 1-12s; (400m) 28 4/5s. Former a length better. Sky Hawk (Manohar) in 1-14s; (400m) 29s. Good. Treasurer (Rb) in 1-13s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Jayaashva (Razzak) in 1-12s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Was handy.

800m: Winning Hand (Rb) and Double Dancer (M. Reuben) in 54 2/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Both level and moved well. Bright Bouquet (P. Alford), Abstone Queen (Rutherford) and Ballot Master (Merchant) in 55 3/5s; (400m) 28s. A neck and a length separated them. Head Hunter (Gowli) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Handy. Field Marshall (Rb) in 1-1 2/5s; (400m) 31s. Privy Council (M. Reuben) in 58 3/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Moved well. Lovely Lucy (Rb) in 55 2/5s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Adventure (A. P. Singh) and Auctioneer (C. Alford) in 56s; (400m) 29 1/5s. Former 2 ls better. Remember Me (Rb) and Volcano Top (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Former 4 ls better. Scarlet Raider (Merchant) and Oriental Pride (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Both level. Giltedge (Salim) and Relative Shade (Gowli) in 1-2s; (400m) 29 3/5s. Former 2 ls better. Crucible (A.P.Singh) and Quizzical (Rb) in 55s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Former 6 ls better. No Regrets (Manohar) and Prizren (M. Reuben) in 58s; (400m) 29 s. Former a neck better. Aquaria (A.P.Singh) in 59s;(400m) 30 2/5s. Precious Dreams (Salim) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Quickdraw McGraw (Gowli) and Light Reflections (Merchant) in 55 2/5s; (400m) 28s. Both level. Gul (Locke ) and Bul Bul (Engineer) in 57 3/5s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Former 3 ls better. Single Dawn (Rutherford) and Ballot Lady (Merchant) in 56s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Both levelled when easy. Storm Centre (Engineer) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Royal Aberdeen (Rb) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Good. No. 379 (Rb) in 57 4/5s; (400m) 29s. No. 103 (Rabani) and Three Good (M. Reuben) in 1-2 3/5s; (400m) 31s. Former head better. Falconhead (A.P.Singh) in 55 3/5s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Fit. Assyrian (Rb) and Sixteen Sixtyfour (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 28 2/5s. Former 4 ls better. Alyssum (Rb) and Armila (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Former 4 ls better. Sheerness (A.P.Singh) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Fit.

600m: Constantine (Kujur) in 41s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Friendly Knight (Bird) in 43s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

1,000m: Joe The Pro (Connorton) in 1-9s; (400m) 24 3/5s. Easy. Heaven’s Blessing (Rb) in 1-11s; (400m) 24s. Good. Royal Ruler (Gurang) and American (Salim) in 1-13s; (400m) 25 4/5s. Former head better.

800m: Infierno (Akhtar) in 50 3/5s; (400m) 23 3/5s. Moved well. Char Bahar (Kujur) in 51s; (400m) 23 1/5s. Good. Ingleside (Som) and Tequila Shot (Shanker) in 47 3/5s; (400m) 23 3/5s. Former 6 ls better. Note. Vested Interest (Yacoob) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Software (Haroon) and Diplomatic Gesture (Rb) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Former a neck better. Rock Falcon (P. Alford) and Ardon (Rutherford) in 50 3/5s; (400m) 24 3/5s. Former head better. Strictly Royal (Rb) and Golden Heart (Haroon) in 53s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Both level and easy. Mameena (Connorton) in 48s; (400m) 23s. Impressed. No Surrender (M. Reuben) in 52s; (400m) 23 2/5s. Fit. Silver Raising (Rb) in 50 2/5s; (400m) 24 2/5s. Note. Floral Path (Rb) in 52 2/5s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Arlington (M. Reu ben) in 52 3/5s; (400m) 25 3/5s.    

 

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