Sourav, Sachin lead India to series victory
Nitin in line for ‘double’
The pressure is on for coach Moitra
Crystal all set for hattrick
Lost Horizon strikes it rich
7 events likely on Wednesday

Vadodara, March 17 
south africa 282/5 (50 ovs) - india 283/6 (49.5 ovs) Mom: Tendulkar

Indians are not known to be good chasers, despite having achieved 300-plus targets twice. They showed today — in the fourth match of the Pepsi one-day series — why they are famous for choking at the death, before stealing a series-clinching four-wicket win with just a ball to spare.

The IPCL Stadium here experienced a cracker of a match where the East and West of Indian cricket came up with contrasting knocks of substance to guide India to a morale-boosting victory. Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar produced a 153-run opening stand marked by the exuberance of the current skipper and the steely resolve of the former captain.

A late collapse, marked by three dismissals off full tosses, almost turned the game the Proteas’ way before some uncharacteristic fielding lapses from the South Africans saw the Indians through.

Sourav and Sachin not only obliterated India’s previous best opening stand against South Africa (130 between Navjyot Sidhu and Krishnamachari Srikkanth in Gwalior, 1991-92) but also made sure that their team had more than a perfect platform to challenge South Africa’s impressive total.

The start of the Indian innings saw a role-reversal of sorts with Sourav attacking from the first ball. Sachin, until, the skipper’s dismissal in the 25th over, was happy to watch and rotate the strike.

The first ball from Shaun Pollock was driven through mid-wicket before the left-hander unleashed a furious assault through the off-side. Time and again, he moved outside leg and freed his shoulders to hit the ball high over the cover-point region. His 50 came from a mere 39 balls as India raced to 100 without loss by the end of the 15th over.

The skipper continued to dominate even after the field restrictions were over and was in sight of his 13th one-day century when he hoisted Pieter Strydom to Pollock at long-on.

Sourav’s 84-ball blitz included two sixes and 12 blazing boundaries.

Rahul Dravid perished soon, driving Nicky Boje without getting to the pitch of the ball but Sachin found a cool head in Mohammed Azharuddin and took India closer to victory.

Sachin came up with just what he had given up the hot seat for and played an immensely responsible innings. It took his tally of hundreds to 25 but, more importantly, made sure that India won the series with a match to spare. His knock wasn’t as flamboyant and attractive as the captain’s but it meant that the team’s best batsman stayed at the wicket till close to the end.

Sachin’s hundred came from 138 balls and included 12 fours. It looked as if he would be there till the end when India needed 29 from five overs with eight wickets remaining. But, for once, valour got the better of discretion and Sachin lifted Jacques Kallis’ full toss to Steve Elworthy at mid-on.

It sparked a collapse Indian fans are so familiar with. Azhar drove another Kallis full toss back to the bowler who took a stunning catch and Ajay Jadeja, the man many thought would take his team home, swung wildly to be bowled by another full toss — this time from Pollock.

Prior to Jadeja’s dismissal, India needed 15 from two overs and Robin Singh had reduced the pressure by smashing the bowler over point for four. Jadeja, somehow, wanted to score all the remaining runs in one shot and had his middle stump uprooted.

Sunil Joshi swung Pollock’s next ball behind square for a valuable four before being yorked by the over’s last delivery.

Syed Saba Karim joined Robin Singh in the middle and the two managed to scamper across for two singles off the first two deliveries before Lance Klusener dropped a dolly at mid-on.

Even Robin couldn’t believe his luck as he strolled towards the non-striker’s end while there was ample time to run back for a second. Klusener missed a direct throw at the non-striker’s end off the next ball and it was curtains for South Africa. It was as close as it gets for the visitors, but for a second or two, they wilted under pressure.

Earlier, Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs got South Africa to another rollicking start, smashing 95 in the first 15 overs. There was no devil in the pitch and the batsman’s job was made easy by Jawagal Srinath’s tendency to bowl fuller than necessary. The speedster was thoroughly punished, going for 43 in his first five overs. It was surprising that Sourav persisted with him for that many overs.

The skipper later explained that he expected his main strike bowler to effect a couple of dismissals.

Kirsten was the more orthodox of the two and played some crisp drives on the leg-side. Gibbs was the one who went after the bowling, slashing hard at a few outside off. He took three boundaries off Srinath’s fifth over and the 50 came up in 8.1 overs.

The tempo changed with the introduction of the spinners. Anil Kumble bowled a stingy line while Sunil Joshi sent back Gibbs with an armer. Sachin came on with his mix of deliveries and the scoring rate quickly subsided.

Kirsten was run out after a misunderstanding with Kallis but not before getting his second half-century of the series.

Cronje joined Kallis and the skipper tried to force the pace in his own unorthodox ways. He fell after making 26 from 27 balls but Kallis silently moved into the forties. Nicky Boje came and went but Kallis cut loose after reaching 50. Joshi was the one to suffer most, going for two huge sixes in the 46th over.

It was surprising to see Dale Benkenstein replace Boje rather then Klusener. Cronje later said ‘the Zulu’ is not in very good form and he wanted somebody who would at least ensure the singles. Benkenstein did just that and with Kallis accelerating, runs came in thick and fast.

Klusener did do his bit with a nine-ball 14 as the last 10 overs produced 77 runs.

Cronje felt his team should have got some more. But considering the kind of mood Sourav was in, even that may not have been enough.    

Calcutta, March 17 
Nitin Kirtane is in line for a double at the Central Revenue Masters tennis tournament at the High Court courts on the Maidan.

The left-hander from Pune lifted the men’s doubles crown in the company of local lad Saurav Panja today. The top-seeded duo tamed the No. 2 pair of Vasudev Reddy and Rishi Sridhar 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 in the final.

Earlier, Kirtane made the singles title round with a hard-fought 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win over third seed S.K. Shivshankar.

Top-seeded Kirtane now meets fourth seed Rohan Bopanna, who moved up after Vasudev Reddy had to concede the match because of a groin injury. Reddy, the second seed, was then leading 2-1 in the opening set.

Reddy recovered enough to give Kirtane and Panja a good fight in the doubles.    

Calcutta, March 17 
With Bengal gunning for their seventh straight title at the national football championship for the santosh Trophy, coach Sankar Moitra is already feeling the heat. “Of course, there is pressure; there is bound to be, when everyone expects nothing but a win,” he said this evening, before adding, “and it won’t be easy, it never is.”

He pointed out that Kerala would be a very tough team to tame in Kerala, while Goa would be major threat.

Moitra, named coach yesterday, pointed out that at least three top strikers who did duty last year will be missing from the Bengal ranks. “We’ll not be getting the services of Bhaichung Bhutia, I. M. Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri, and then there are injuries to some of the other strikers available,” he said, before expressing hope that Raman Vijayan and Bijen Singh will recover fully in time for the tournament.

“I’ll be going to the East Bengal Club within a day or two for a chat with coach Subhas Bhowmick regarding the two players,” Moitra said. He has, however, some very good medios at his disposal and Moitra feels the midfield will have to play a big role this time to lend the edge to the attack.

The IFA will select about 30 probables on March 23, but Moitra said most of the players will be available for practice only after the National League was over.    

Bangalore, March 17 
A winner in both his current starts, the Darius Byramji-ward, Crystal Moment looks good for a hat-trick of wins when he takes on his 12 rivals in the 1,200m Hemavathi Cup in tomorrow’s race-card. Aslam Kader partners the the four-year-old by Placerville out of Cristal Glitter.


3 pm: Arduous 1. X-Pac 2. Athabasca 3.

3.30 pm: Royal Steps 1. Axe 2. Supreme Glory 3.

4 pm: Crystal Moment 1. Acute 2. Sensational News 3.

4.30 pm: Sassy 1. Hot Property 2. Gallant Chief 3.

5 pm: Crown Haunt 1. Hong Kong Boy 2. Cyclades 3.

5.30 pm: River Dale 1. Briscay 2. Amalos 3.

Day’s Best: Crystal Moment Double: Arduous & Royal Steps    

The Dominic-trained Lost Horizon scored a decisive victory in the Kanteerava Cup at the Bangalore on races Friday. Mark Gallagher partnered the six-year-old to victory.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. March Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (6-4-8) Jungle Cat (Srinath) 1; Adorer 2; Resplendent Star 3. Not run: So Thrilled (3). Won by: 1-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-15.9). Tote: Win Rs 44; Place: 13; 10; 24; Quinella: 22; Tanala: 480. Fav: Adorer (4).

2. March Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (6-1-10) Bountiful Gesture (Kader) 1; Royal Satin 2; Allocate 3. Won by: 4-1/2; 1/2; (1-14.3). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 16; 46; Quinella: 32; Tanala: 314. Fav: Bountiful Gesture (6).

3. Davanagere Cup 1,400m: (4-5-6) Love And Honor (Sharat) 1; Decorated Hero 2; Tattoo 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-29.3). Tote: Win Rs 161; Place: 36; 23; 14; Quinella: 372; Tanala: 2,380. Fav: Tattoo (6).

4. Kanteerava Cup 1,200m: (2-5-6) Lost Horizon (Gallagher) 1; Skye 2; Bank Of Promise 3. Won by: 1-3/4; SH; (1-15.8). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 17; 24; 19; Quinella: 165; Tanala: 1,021. Fav: Lost Horizon (2).

5. Bellary Plate 1,600m: (11-2-4) Ravish (Rakesh) 1; Psychedelic 2; Fereneze 3. Won by: 3; 2; (1-42.1). Tote: Win Rs 64; Place: 28; 18; 20; Quinella: 88; Tanala: 744. Fav: Psychedelic (2).

6. Devarayanadugra Plate 1,200m: (8-6-1) Save The Day (A. Imran K.) 1; Musselburgh 2; Ronson 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-16.3). Tote: Win Rs 123; Place: 31; 15; 19; Quinella: 236; Tanala: 2,550. Fav: Walk In The Clouds (9).

7. Jayanagar Plate 1,400m: (11-7-1) Royal Glare (Arun R.) 1; Red Bird 2; Prime Target 3. Won by: 3/4; 1/2; (1-32.6). Tote: Win Rs 91; Place: 23; 11; 43; Quinella: 84; Tanala: 1,809. Fav: Red Bird (7).

Jackpot: Rs 1,25,720 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 702; (ii) Rs 8,669.    

Calcutta, March 17 
The new RCTC prospectus framed for rest of the five race meetings, including the next Wednesday’s fixture, promises seven events on each day. Altho- ugh a good number of horses have left for Bangalore, fields are still expected to be packed owing to a near one month brake of racing because of labour problem in RCTC.    

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