South Africa race to 10-wicket victory
A fit Wasim will make the difference: Moin Khan
Falguni spoils Mohun Bagan party
Bhowmick signs off in style
The many faces of champions’ frustration
Season restarts with hard blows
Mosaic may make a winning debut

Sharjah, March 22 
INDIA 164-SOUTH AFRICA 168/0 MoM: Elworthy

Call it the wives/girlfriends effect, or give it any other name, but their presence did inspire South Africa to its first ten-wicket win in ODIs.

As it usually is with such achievements, the timing was perfect. On paper, after all, both India and South Africa were playing for broke in match No.1 of the Coca-Cola Cup 2000. The former, though, finished a poor second.

“It’s been one bad outing... Tomorrow will be another day and we should return a better team... We hardly exerted ourselves (today), so, playing back-to-back shouldn’t be tough,” insisted captain Sourav Ganguly.

That may well be easier said than done as, psychologically, Pakistan will now be right on top.

Set a comfortable ask, in-form openers Herschelle Gibbs (87 not out in 93 deliveries, 9x4, 3x6) and Gary Kirsten (unbeaten 71 in 85 balls, 8x4) quickly ensured South Africa weren’t hit by the chasing-a-moderate-total blues.

Early wickets alone would have helped India claw back. In the event, the openers roared to 92 in the first 15 overs itself. At the half-way mark, a mere 23 runs remained as Gibbs, who was brutal, and Kirsten made the most of the Indians’ profligacy.

Jawagal Srinath’s first three overs went for 19; Ajit Agarkar’s four cost 25 and the first two Sunil Joshi overs produced 16.

“Our bowling, in the initial overs specially, needs to be disciplined,” acknowledged Sourav. Clearly, bowling on both sides of the wicket is a sure invitation for disaster.

Earlier, the first eight Indian wickets fell within 21 overs; the last two batsmen survived for over 24. Actually, it was left to the last-wicket pair of Ajay Jadeja and Srinath to ensure what then seemed a somewhat face-saving total.

Jadeja (43 not out in 79 deliveries, 3x4) and Srinath (30 in 58 balls, 3x4, 1x6) added 62, bettering the all-time Indian best of 53 between Ravi Shastri and Narendra Hirwani (versus the West Indies, Gwalior, January 1988).

Of course their effort, eventually, amounted to no more than just a statistical achievement, but the Indians were at least able to take to the break — which, at one time, looked to come about terribly prematurely — with shoulders not fully drooping.

Also, despite being stuffed by his own batsmen Sourav could, at least, have attempted to re-draw strategy and hope for the best. For that, however, quick wickets were needed. The bottomline never quite came to that.

Sourav had done well to win the toss, but though the wicket occasionally seemed dual-paced, blame has to be directed within. The South Africans did produce a coldly pro performance, but they still found an ally in most Indian batsmen.

Injudicious shot-selection, for one, wasn’t at a premium as Hansie Cronje maintained pressure by giving the wicket-takers a long bowl.

Cronje’s stated wish, yesterday, was to quickly evict “two of the first three.” As it turned out, all three — Sourav, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid — were back in just over 11 overs.

Sachin was the first to depart — playing the wrong line to Shaun Pollock and, surprisingly, leaving a yawning gap. After a percentage-start, Sourav struck sizzling boundaries, but fell in taking the aerial route at Jacques Kallis’ expense.

Incidentally, Kallis had dropped a blazing return catch from Sourav (on five). Kallis struck again, in his next over, inducing Dravid to fatally play across the line.

Joshi gave his pinch-hitter’s role his best shot, but became comeback-man Makhaya Ntini’s victim No.1. Obviously wanting to make the right headlines, after being embroiled in that sensational rape case, Ntini worked up a lively pace and forced the Indians into two minds.

Like Kallis, Ntini too hit a perfect-10 in his next over as well, when Mohammed Azharuddin drove away from the body to give Mark Boucher a regulation catch. On his way back, Azhar was bombarded with “Well done Azhar” taunts.

The next over (18th), from ODI-specialist and MoM Steve Elworthy, made it worse for India. Robin Singh, who isn’t unfamiliar with crisis situations, was adjudged leg-before and then Syed Saba Karim castled.

Elworthy, used by Cronje in one choking spell (10-3-17-3), returned his best one-day figures — victim No.3 was Anil Kumble. Later, smiling, he told The Telegraph: “Honestly, it was a funny wicket... One had to vary the pace.”

Kumble was the ninth out, having been preceded by Agarkar who got deceived by a slower one from Ntini.

At 89 for eight (21st over), India had been on cue to record their lowest-ever at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium (125 twice). However, the Jadeja-Kumble and, then, Jadeja-Srinath partnerships averted what would have been a prominent scar.

Srinath, who got much stick in the last two one-dayers against the South Africans, got his own back by clouting Lance Klusener. A breathtaking six and two superb boundaries, towards the end, also gave the sparse turnout something to cheer.

Lucky for South Africa the innings ended (15 minutes) before the scheduled break, or else they would have been docked for being way behind the overrate.

Srinath’s fitness

Late tonight, it was learnt Srinath had a groin problem and may even miss tomorrow’s game. If he has to sit out, back in the XI will be Venkatesh Prasad.    

Sharjah, March 22 
It was in this Emirate, back in early 1995 (Asia Cup), that Moin Khan’s first innings as captain began. Only, it ended as dramatically as it had begun: A bout of chicken-pox knocking Moin out of the tournament.

“Thankfully, something like that hits you just once in a lifetime... I’m glad I’ve already been a victim,” quipped a smiling Moin, while talking to The Telegraph this morning.

Much, of course, has happened since early 1995 but one constant is that Moin continues to remain Pakistan’s ‘Mr Reliable’. If anything, his stature has grown a few notches.

Moin, who is also one of the beneficiaries at the Coca-Cola Cup 2000, largely spoke about the tournament which got underway today.

Following are excerpts

On the tournament which, for Pakistan, begins tomorrow

We’ve come with a mixed team — quite a few youngsters will be sharing the dressing room with the likes of Wasim (Akram) and Inzy (Inzamam-ul-Haq). While the seniors have their reputation to live up to, the youngsters have a wonderful opportunity to make one.

On whether the absence of Saeed Anwar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Azhar Mehmood will prove a big handicap

Fact is they are injured... Uske bare mein to kuch ho nahin sakta. Like I’ve said, we have gifted youngsters and, at some time or the other, they have to step in. Hopefully, all will be fit for the West Indies... I accept Saeed, specially, will be missed but it’s an opportunity for Imran Nazir and (Wajahatullah) Wasti.

On the ‘drama’ over Akram having to prove his fitness

It was nothing... I just said we should leave it to the world’s best bowler to himself inform us whether he’s fit or not. Clearly, the word of a Wasim Akram has to be accepted. Inshallah, a fit Wasim will make the difference.

On his message to the players

Nothing extraordinary — give hundred per cent and leave the rest to the many factors which come into play during a match. Obviously, every team seeks to win.

On the South Africans

Very competitive.

On whether the Indians’ positive body-language could alter the usual Indo-Pak equations in these parts

Well, yes, they won a good series (versus South Africa), but had the advantage of playing at home... Of course, aap ki team bahut confident dikh rahi hai. The attitude now is different, much more positive. (Adds laughing) Actually, the Indians’ comeback has made this a real tough tournament. Sabke liye mushkil ho ga.

On Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy

Haven’t thought about it in detail, but some things are evident: He’s a good motivator and the team responds to him; he has himself been leading from the front. That does make a difference.

On Sachin Tendulkar relinquishing captaincy

Came as a big surprise.

On whether captaincy can become a burden

(Smiles) Depends on the individual. If he treats it like a burden, it will be just that. Where I’m concerned, I don’t see it as something to weigh me down. I’ve been captaining from the age of 14, and I quite enjoy it.

Finally, on what is at the root of Pakistan’s inconsistency

A lot of people have a lot of views but, to make it simple, we’ll be much better off without injuries — at the same time — to a clutch of top players.    

Calcutta, March 22 

They burned cardboard models of the sailboat, symbol of Mohun Bagan, they dumped all the red and green aabir they brought along for the supposed celebrations, and they fought pitched battles with ‘rival’ supporters on the stands. For them, the Mohun Bagan supporters, it was not important that Mohun Bagan remained the National Football League champions, it was not important that East Bengal stayed at seventh spot with 29 points from 21 matches, it was only important that East Bengal earned a ‘revenge’ win.

The episode was as disgusting as it should have been. East Bengal carved out a fantastic 3-1 victory at the Salt Lake Stadium this afternoon, and they deserved every minute of it. However, egged along by one top official of the club, Mohun Bagan supporters and officials showed their worst side, and did not even realise how shameful this was for a National Club.

Jackson Egygopong put East Bengal ahead in the 19th minute and Jose Ramirez Barreto drew Mohun Bagan level three minutes later. Falguni Dutta pulled East Bengal ahead again in the 25th minute, and then drove home the final nail as well in the 80th.

The match was generally clean, the players all putting their best foot forward. Despite wayward instructions and some strange body language of that top Bagan official from the VIP stand, it was good, clean soccer, something not always associated with a Mohun Bagan-East Bengal match.

Mohun Bagan were the initial marauders, through their talented attacking trio of Igor Skhvirin, Jose Ramirez Barreto and Sytephen Abarowei. However, once East Bengal discovered the Bagan achilles heel of a shaky defence, there was no stopping them.

There was a lot of policing of the three Bagan attackers, yet Barretto showed the fleet of foot to be able to get out of tight situations. In the eighth minute, he shot one wide from close. A setpiece went abegging in the 16th minute when, off an R.P. Singh flag-kick to the goalmouth Igor Skhvirin offered a quick dummy, before a header by the overlapping Samuel Omollo went out.

East Bengal’s option was in the counterattack, and they did just that in the 19th minute.

A flag-kick was earned, and Falguni directed it back. It was relayed to the top of the box by Dipankar Roy. Jackson, overlapping, headed in quickly.

Bagan came back in reflex action, three minutes later. A prompt from skipper Lolendra Singh reached Stephen Abarowei at the goalmouth. Stephen headed it down at the goalmouth and Barreto knocked home from inside the box.

Suddenly, the crunch was on. The pace was furious, and, even as the Bagan fans celebrated the equaliser, a Dipankar Roy pass reached an overlapping Falguni, whose brilliant 30-yard volley was too much for the diminutive ’keeper Arpan Dey to handle. The drums fell quiet.

It was a long try that the defence did not quite anticipate, but Dey could well have positioned himself better. His attention was elsewhere, and he jumped a trifle too early for the boomer.

That was when Mohun Bagan sorely missed Basudeb Mondal, the litle medio who generally keeps the waistline in shape and feeds the forwards well. Mondal and Dulal Biswas are in Jamshedpur, playing for their office teams and failed to reach the city on time.

The attacks were on at both ends. Prasanta Dora made a fine save off an Igor try in the 34th minute, just before Arpan took the initiative off Emmanuel Opoku’s feet at the other end. Barreto was proving quite a handful, falling back even to help in the defence.

Igor was desperate at the goalmouth. In the 49th minute, and the lead still with East Bengal, Igor entered the box but Anit Ghosh took the ball off with a neat, copybook slide-tackle. Then Barreto shot straight into Prasanta from inside the box.

Dipankar Roy floated one just over the crosspiece at the other end and then messed up with an outstep, landing just in the side-netting.

By then, one thing was clear. East Bengal were going all out, all the way. It was a no-holds-barred shot at the target. They had simply nothing to lose.

More misses followed, and Omollo even made a great goalline save when Arpan was on one of his trips.

Then Dutta sealed Bagan’s fate. He took off from a Tushar Rakshit pass, went past Debjit Ghosh with a body feint and shot, Arpan managing to reach, though not quite.    

Calcutta, March 22 
For East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick, it was a glorious finale. Never mind that he remained nowhere in the reckoning in the National League, he had an answer to give, to the “rival coach”, his “own supporters” and even own club “officials” for playing him down.

“A coach is as good as his team, his players, please talk to them today. For me, it’s over, finished, this season,” said Bhowmick. He hands over charge for the last couple of matches of the league to Krishanu Dey.

“I have shown what a team that is boosted mentally can do,” he said. “You can’t keep hammering down at the players and push them down all the time.”

Krishanu was not too wiling to comment except “it’s just for a couple of matches.” The rumour is that T. K. Chathunni has been approached, and if he refuses to take charge, Syed Nayeemuddin, waiting in the wings for long, will be asked to take over.

Falguni Dutta, the star of the day, refused to agree that this would be one of his best matches. “I’ve just started, and there’s a long way to go. Moreover, I’ve been helped by my teammates all along. That we beat a team with so many stars is the big thing,” he said.

Subrata Bhattacharya conceded that this defeat was a “big smear” on Mohun Bagan’s title, though he tried to explain this by saying his players were bound to be a bit complacent. “After all, they’ve already won the title and this is after a three-month slog.”    

Calcutta, March 22 
The decibel levels at the two dressing-rooms said it all. There was wild cheering at the East Bengal room, many congratulatory messages, and an eerie silence on the Mohun Bagan side. The bigger farce of the ‘big’ match of the day was over, and emotions took centrestage.

Outside, there was utter chaos among the supporters at the Salt Lake Stadium today. Several large packets of red and green aabir were dumped onto lower tiers of the stadium, cardboard sailboats (the Mohun Bagan symbol) were set on fire. Frustration can take many shapes. Three months of hope culminated in Mohun Bagan wining the league, but all that was wiped clean in 90 minutes. Memories fade fast.

The strong police contingent present in the stands failed to react in time and the situation could have gone beyond control had East Bengal not won the day. It is surprising how the upper tier of a stand could have supporters of one club, being able to throw missles at rival club supporters in the lower tier. It defies any logic of crowd management.

Added to that was the behaviour of the club officials. The All India Football Federation, for once, should stop talking and take action against these officials who care little for pride, the main commodity that was on trade at today’s match. When the police did react, the atmosphere had already been besmirched. It didn’t help matters that comments of officials in media today had helped add hype to a match that hardly deserved so much.

Mohun Bagan’s Igor Skhvirin was fuming: “I am angry, too angry. I don’t wish to make any comment that can be construed as something else now, but I’ll talk tomorrow.” Stephen Abarowei expressed frustration over the supporters’ behaviour.

Altogether 32 soccer fans were arrested by the district police for indulging in violence during and after the match. A few people, including a Rapid Action Force personnel, were seriously injured in the chaos, superintendent of police North 24 Parganas Kuldip Singh said, adds UNI. The injured were sent to the city hospitals.    

Calcutta, March 22 
Outsiders were the prominent performers while favourites found the going tough in today’s racing which resumed after a month long brake owing to labour trouble in RCTC. Noble Canonire in the opener and Aquaria in the Millennium Trophy, were the only public choices to oblige.

The struggle to spot winners started right after the first race. With lesser fancied Scarlet Raider paying little respect to horses in the betting — Ashbury and On The Bit — in the baby race, the Pure Gold Handicap, the stage was set for brutal blows. Trainer Bharath Singh’s winner, Dancing Fire, did the most damage paying Rs 1,496 against a tenner in the Mysore Race Club Trophy which also saw jockeys Paul Kujur (on Kargil Soldier) and apprentice Md Islam (A Million Memories) coming cropper mid-way through the race. The fall was nasty and fatal for A Million Memories. Another friendless horse, Falconhead, won the Cooch Behar Memorial Cup.


1. Dalkeith Handicap 1,100m: (7-3-8-2) Noble Canonire (Merchant) 1; Double Dancer (M. Reuben) 2; Zingari (Rabani) 3; Tequila Shot (Shanker) 4. Not run: Piece Of Cake (1). Won by: 3-3/4; 2-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-6.8). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 14; 18; Quinella: 47; Tanala: 257. Fav: Noble Canonire (7). Winner trained by R. Alford.

2. Pure Gold Handicap 1,100m: (2-9-1-6) Scarlet Raider (Merchant) 1; On The Bit (Connorton) 2; Ashbury (C. Alford) 3; Eau Savage (Shanker) 4. Won by: 1-1/2; 1-3/4; 3/4; (1-7.1). Tote: Win Rs 61; Place: 16; 15; 12; Quinella: 91; Tanala: 356. Fav: Ashbury (1). Winner trained by R. Alford.

3. Mysore Race Club Trophy 1,100m: (9-6-3-7) Dancing Fire (Rabani) 1; Storm Trooper (Tamang) 2; Mameena (Shanker) 3; Sheerness (A. P. Singh) 4. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-1/2; 1-1/2; (1-5.9). Tote: Win Rs 1,496; Place: 152; 46; 14; Quinella: 8,485; Tanala: 1,27,580 (Carried over to March 26). Fav: Auctioneer (10). Winner trained by Bharath S.

4. Millennium Trophy 1,400m: (6-14-13-7) Aquaria (C. Alford) 1; Remem ber The Day (Merchant) 2; Citadel (Shanker) 3; Jeweller (Surender) 4. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-26.1). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 13; 31; 21; Quinella: 163; Tanala: 649. Fav: Aquaria (6). Winner trained by Vijay S.

5. H. H. Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan B. B. Of Cooch Behar Memorial Cup 1,200m: (4-8-11-6) Falconhead (Shanker) 1; Adventure (C. Alford) 2; Bold Invader (Rabani) 3; Acquest (Surender) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 1/2; Nk; (1-12.6). Tote: Win Rs 336; Place: 57; 13; 29; Quinella: 635; Tanala: 16,266. Fav: Head Hunter (9). Winner trained by Vijay S.

6. Red Flannel Handicap 1,200m: (10-6-12-11) Diplomatic Gesture (Shanker) 1; As You Please (P. Alford) 2; Time Of Times (Merchant) 3; Work Order (Surender) 4. Won by: 2; 2-1/4; 1/2; (1-13.4). Tote: Win Rs 56; Place: 20; 17; 14; Quinella: 109; Tanala: 443. Fav: Time Of Times (12). Winner trained by Bath.

Jackpot: Rs 2,02,610 (Carried over to March 26).

Treble: (i) Rs 5,536; (ii) Rs 12,954.    

Brilliant in her workouts, the well-bred three-year-old Imtiaz Sait-trained filly Mosaic is expected make a winning debut in the 1,400m Astronomic Trophy at the Mumbai races on Thursday. C. Rajendra partners the Portroe-Shilly Sally daughter.


2.30 pm: Sampagio 1. Winnington 2. Fortune Favours 3.

3 pm: Conduction 1. Little Hot Shot 2. Super Cop 3.

3.30 pm: Aries Rocket 1. Family Fortune 2. Celestial Light 3.

4 pm: Fantasy Royal 1. Star Trader 2. Romanova 3.

4.30 pm: Mosaic 1. Silver Sea 2. Betsy 3.

5 pm: Astaire 1. Classy Missy 2. Supreme Authority 3.

5.30 pm: Ride The Lightning 1. Midnight Escape 2. Hiccups 3.

5.55 pm: Judgement Call 1. Agni Sikha 2. Kahini 3.

Day’s Best: Conduction Double: Aries Rocket & Ride The Lightning    


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