Pak eye survival, India final berth
Sourav willing to stand in for Anwar in Asia XI
Railways hit up 353 vs AI
I function like a democrat: Cronje
Easy for East Bengal
Sukhwinder stays coach
Bagan seek win in last tie
Milano may win Governor’s Cup
Revoir tipped

Sharjah, March 25 
Taking absolutely nothing for granted has been a feature of Sourav Ganguly’s approach to cricket. In fact, to life itself.

In keeping with that, therefore, Sourav isn’t reading too much into Pakistan’s defeats in their first two Coca-Cola Cup 2000 games. Another loss, at India’s hands tomorrow, and Pakistan will be out of the three-nation tournament.

“Having lost the opening match (to South Africa), we were desperate to win on Thursday (first game against Pakistan)... Perhaps, it’s that acute desperation which makes all the difference. Tomorrow, Pakistan will be desperate, and we must be prepared,” remarked Sourav, after this morning’s workout.

Of course, while Pakistan will be desperate, India are determined with a bold D. Full points and Friday’s final will be an India versus South Africa affair, taking the competitive edge out of the last two league matches (Monday and Tuesday).

So, while most of the pressure is on Pakistan, the Indians too have a small share on their shoulders — the pressure to seal a berth in the final tomorrow itself. Even a few weeks ago, not many would have wagered on India doing that. Today, the queue of backers will stretch from Sharjah to Dubai.

“Your captain has made the difference... His aggression has rubbed off on teammates and we respect his ability to make the most of resources available,” observed the Pakistan manager, Brig. (retd) Khwaja Mohammed Nasir, in a chat with The Telegraph. He is actually echoing the view of the Pakistan dressing-room.

Sourav, for his part, isn’t himself talking much of the difference he has brought about, but accepts that leading from the front is important.

“Runs in Australia (361 in the Carlton and United Series), and also the home (one-day) series against South Africa have given me confidence... I’ve been playing my normal game, though one has to adjust to situations. I don’t, however, set targets.”

Incidentally, Sourav is much better though the left hip bone is still sore. He was struck by Shoaib Akhtar Thursday.

Ironically, a question mark rests over Shoaib’s fitness. He has been on cortizone injections for the past few weeks, plagued not just by a groin but back problem as well.

Shoaib missed yesterday’s outing, but “an all-out effort” is being made to get him fit. The psychological factor, after all, isn’t insignificant. Ditto where Wasim Akram is concerned.

“We have to get both fit... There is no choice,” acknowledged coach Javed Miandad at the end of an exhaustive four-hour workout tonight.

Significantly, Sourav pointed out strategy would be devised assuming both will feature in the XI. Again, nothing is being taken for granted.

Meanwhile Pakistan, it seems, have shelved plans to fly in Azhar Mehmood and Saqlain Mushtaq — something decided upon last night. Apparently, the powers-that-be now feel that being short on match-fitness, the duo (though fit) may not be able to contribute much.

The ‘heat’, then, will remain on the squad already here. Both captain Moin Khan and Miandad presented a brave front, after last night’s defeat (seventh on the trot), but the strain showed.

Rather unfairly, a Pakistani (Lahore-based) journalist even pulled out the scoresheet and sought Moin’s comment on his own contribution — a duck and 14 byes, besides two dropped catches.

Taken aback, Moin responded caustically: “Nothing was intentional... I tried my best...” He did give the journalist a hard stare, suggesting his response could be a wee bit different should they happen to meet on his home turf, Karachi.

But that will have to wait, not so Moin having to lead from the front. The captain will, of course, be hoping young Imran Nazir continues with his excellent form (and attitude) and Abdul Razzaq bowls as well as he did last night.

It remains to be seen whether Shahid Afridi, who has been one big disappointment, is retained.

The Indian XI won’t see a change. Jawagal Srinath is better, but Sourav informed he will “require a couple of days” to be fit. In effect, Srinath appears to be out of Monday’s game versus South Africa as well.

Srinath was present during the team’s workout but only ‘exerted’ himself when coach Kapil Dev requested he bowl “in-swingers,” from a standing-still position, to Sachin Tendulkar. That, too, with a dog-ball.

Sachin hasn’t got runs thus far, but such is his determination he had regular nets and, then, moved to a concrete pitch where the Kapils and Srinaths kept pitching just short of length.

Though all three matches have proved disastrous for the team setting a target, Sourav feels first strike is still the best option. “Totalling around 250 should be enough...”

Sourav explained the woefully slow outfield and the fact that the white ball is being ‘spotted’ late, by batsmen, are factors which have reduced Sharjah to a low-scoring outing.

“Now, even India-Pakistan games don’t attract a full-house... The other evening, stands were vacant... Fans wouldn’t like to see matches where the target is even below 150,”he added.

A thriller tomorrow and the crowds could be back.    

Sharjah, March 25 
The International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) panel of selectors may have to meet again, soon, to effect changes in the Asia XI picked earlier this month.

Asia XI meets Rest of World XI in Dhaka, on April 8, a match billed as the highpoint of the ICC’s inaugural Cricket Week, brainchild of president Jagmohan Dalmiya.

At the moment, there is a question mark over the availability of three players: Captain Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Saeed Anwar. All have fitness problems and Anwar, who is currently being treated in London, may even undergo knee surgery.

Sourav Ganguly, who ought to have made it in the first place, is the obvious replacement for Anwar. Asked by The Telegraph whether he would agree to stand-in, Sourav answered: “I suppose, yes...”

The ICC’s selectors are: Ian Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar, Tony Greig, Asif Iqbal and Mike Procter.

Late this evening, there were ‘whispers’ that Sourav had, in fact, made the XI. But he himself had not been told anything. Moreover, selector Asif said the question of replacements would only come up after the parent Board informed the ICC about a player’s non-availability.    

Jorhat, March 25 
Indian Railways rode a breezy 75 by opener Rajini Sharma and 69 by Deep Kulkarni to first innings score of 353 against Air India in the final of the 24th senior national women’s cricket championship today.

Another partnership of 54 for the fourth wicket between Rajini and Hemlatha Kulkarni (32), boosted the innings after the first three Railways wickets fell for 65. At lunch, the score read 91 for three in 28 overs.

An unbeaten 48 off 50 balls by Poornima Chowdhury, who came in as the ninth batswoman, further boosted their score.

Rajini’s 75 came off 120 balls in which she survived three chances before being caught by Anjum Chopra off Usha Bogade a few minutes before tea.

Usha finished with three for 113 in 28 overs.

Brief scores: Indian Railways 352 in 89.5 ovs (Rajini Sharma 75, Deep Kulkarni 69, Poornima Chowdhury 48 n.o.); Usha Bogade 3/113) vs Air India.    

Sharjah, March 25 
The umpires may have done him and South Africa in. Or, the wicket could have been a minefield. Hansie Cronje, though, isn’t the type to complain. Quite like Mark Taylor, hiding behind excuses isn’t his way of playing cricket.

Cronje, of course, has a fantastic record as captain: 27 wins (11 defeats) in 53 Tests; 98 victories (34 losses) in 136 one-dayers. He is set for more, though his appointment (for now) is only till April 16, when the ODIs against Australia, at home, end.

The South African captain spoke to The Telegraph this morning. He was, as usual, frank and, as he has come to be recognised, extremely warm.

Following are excerpts

On having played such a significant hand in South Africa’s exceptional progress

I’ve been fortunate... I inherited a team (in 1994-95) moulded into a winning unit by Kepler (Wessels) and Mike Procter... Then, I got to work with Bob (Woolmer), who wanted us to gun for the No.1 spot... Working with Peter Pollock (former chief selector) helped, too.

Indeed, over the years, it’s sustained team effort which has enabled us compete with the very best.

On whether he got the captaincy at the right time

Well, yes... Kepler had then been struggling (with a knee ailment)...

On whether the demands of captaincy intimidated him then

(Laughs) I wasn’t pushed into an unfamiliar role... In fact, I’ve been captain from my schooldays, from age 11... Then, I underwent the grooming process... It helped that I intimately knew the players.

On how he goes about his job

My approach is that of a democrat — players are free to provide inputs. I know some captains tend to be autocrats, wanting only their ideas to be implemented... I’m different. Bottomline is to get the best out of everybody.

On whether he had a role-model captain

I was impressed by Clive Lloyd and Mike Gatting. Both, I feel, were excellent motivators. Besides, where Lloyd is concerned, he ensured unity even though his team comprised players from different island-nations. Today, the West Indies aren’t as united.

On whether he has been impressed by a contemporary captain

No one has stood out though there have been moments, for instance, when a particular change in the field has caught one’s eye. One then makes a mental note.

On the qualities he has imbibed

A bit from Lloyd, bit from Gatting as well. Gatting, for example, took on the best with intense self-belief.

On having enacted a Lloyd-like role in South Africa

I suppose I have... I’ve always maintained nobody should be judged on the colour of his skin. When we take the field, we do so as South Africans, not Blacks or Whites.

On whether selection ought always to be on merit only

(Interrupting) But, as I’ve said before, there will be occasions when talent has to be nurtured... I do believe we are getting to a stage when the team will be representative of the entire country.

On the fantastic rapport he shared with Woolmer

We had a common goal: Become world-beaters in the one-dayers... The Test-discipline was already there, when Kepler and Mike were around, so we largely focussed on tightening our one-day game.

On who was the boss

(Laughs again) On the field, it was me. Off it, Bob was boss.

On his relationship with Graham Ford

We understand each other well... Our system is such that it allowed Graham ‘graduate’ to the coach’s position... It’s great when the system allows such a smooth transition. As Graham began by being an assistant, that enabled him get close to the players before he actually took charge.

On whether the coach and he share homework on the opposition

With just about every series being telecast live, the homework isn’t difficult. We followed both the India-New Zealand series in India and India-Australia series in Australia.

On a captain’s body language

That is central to how players respond to a given situation.

On whether staying so cool even when the ball hasn’t rolled his way comes easy

(Grins) There are times when one looks cool from the outside but, inside, one is boiling! Let me add captaincy hasn’t ever been a burden.

On having been put on ‘trial’ at the start of the season

I wasn’t disappointed... Back in South Africa, people want the team to win and the captain to be successful. If that doesn’t happen, well, people will put you under pressure... I do realise I’ve still got to contribute as a batsman.

On just how important is the captaincy for him

It’s not a big issue — has never been. I enjoyed my game when I wasn’t captain; am enjoying it now.

On whether he is conscious of being more than just South Africa’s cricket captain

(Pauses) Yes... One learns as one goes along. Screaming and shouting won’t help, so...

On his idols

Graeme Pollock and Viv Richards... Outside cricket, somebody so focussed and cool like Ivan Lendl.

Finally, in time, how would he like to be remembered

As somebody who always put South Africa ahead of him.    

Calcutta, March 25 
East Bengal breezed past Mohammedan Sporting 3-0 in a group A match of the BHA first division league today. Sylvester Minz, Fulmon Toppo and Promod Kumar scored.

In another match, BNR and Eastern Railway drew 1-1. Basal Kullu scored for BNR and Britus Minz levelled the score.

In first division group B, Calcutta Rangers Club defeated Calcutta Parsee Club 3-0. Shaun de Rozario scored twice, with Barry Saviel completing the tally.

In cricket, Aryan beat Paikpara Sporting by nine wickets on the first day of their two-day J.C. Mukherjee trophy pre-quarter final match today.    

New Delhi, March 25 
Sukhwinder Singh, who coached India in the Asia Cup qualifiers, will again be in charge of the Indian team for the four-nation meet in Maldives in May.

Eight players from Bengal are likely to find berths in the squad.

According to AIFF secretary K.N. Mour, an Indian team will tour England in July to play three exhibition matches — first division club Fulham July 22, Premier Division side Leicester City July 25 and a touring Bangladesh team July 30 at Villa Park.    

Calcutta, March 25 
The matter of supremacy settled and the fourth National Football League firmly in their pocket, Mohun Bagan take on Tollygunge Agragami in their concluding encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow.

The only thing at stake is pride — Mohun Bagan’s ego has been shattered by the 1-3 loss to East Bengal last Wednesday. For the supporters, the defeat has taken away much of the sheen from the crown. Tollygunge, on the other hand, have failed to meet their target of finishing among the top six and are now placed eighth in the 12-team table.

Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya, however, said that they will go for a win and would like to end the League on a victorious note.

However, the fact that there will be no outstation referee tomorrow — Gautam Sadhukhan is the chosen man — has raised hackles in the Tollygunge camp. Fund crunch has been cited as the reason by the IFA. Tollygunge had to face considerable trouble in Ludhiana where their hotel bills and other expenses were not paid by the state association. Their officials today said that there was no point in staging a National League under such circumstances.

The IFA has, however, come to their aid. Subroto Dutta of the IFA finance commission said Tollygunge will receive their prize money of Rs 75000 for finishing third in the Calcutta League.

The Bagan players who were showcaused — Basudeb Mondal and Dulal Biswas — practised with the team today and it seems the club authorities will have no problems if they play tomorrow.

E. Bengal face FCK

An absorbing tussle for supremacy is on the cards when FC Kochin and East Bengal clash in their last match in Thrissur tomorrow, PTI reports. The local team, lying fourth with 34 points, can finish third if they win provided Salgaocar lose to Mahindras in Margao tomorrow when the League ends. East Bengal, with 29 points, can’t improve from their current seventh position.    

Calcutta, March 25 
The 2,800m Governor’s Cup, tomorrow’s feature, understandably, has only four runners in an otherwise well represented six-event card. The end-March heat has, perhaps, prompted trainers to skip the event over a gruelling trip. Nevertheless, the one who may take some beating over the last of the longest race of the season is the Vijay Singh-trained Milano who is not only at a weight advantage, he also boasts of some form. Cristopher Alford partners the six-year-old gelding.

In fact, in other race events tomorrow, Cristopher may be seen at advantage on Alyssum, Avionic and Aileron as well.

Race card & selections

1. Rising Bell Cup 1,100m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 1.35 pm: Analyzer 60 A. P. Singh 6; Jayaashva 58.5 Razzak 4; Aflicker 57.5 Rabani 3; Floral Path 56.5 Rutherford 1; Alyssum 56.5 C. Alford 5; Bernadine 55.5 Surender S. 2.


2. Mauritius Belle Cup 1,400m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 2.20 pm: Rheinheart 60 Shanker 7; Aristotemus 60 P. Alford 8; Golden Express 59.5 K. Kumar 2; Avionic 57 C. Alford 4; Flying Power 56.5 Surender S. 5; Classy Twist 56.5 (withdrawn); The Cigar 54.5 Sher S. 6; Consolidate 54.5 Rabani 3; Armila 53.5 A. P. Singh 1.


3. Duflating Trophy 1,400m (Handicap 3-y-o only, Rt. 00-50) 2.55 pm: Fame Star 60 Connorton 5; Santillana 59 Gowli 11; Queen’s Logic 58 Amil 9; Rising Chorus 52.5 Gurang 3; Allaying 52.5 C. Alford 10; Lockers Park 52.5 Shanker 7; Ballard Lady 51 Salim K. 6; Arroway 51 Surender S. 4; Prizren 51 M. Reuben 8; Ballet Master 50 Merchant 2; No Regrets 50 Haroon 1.


4. Governor’s Cup 2,800m (Cl I, Rt. 66-94) 3.30 pm: Chief Of Staff 62 Gurang 1; Dominate 55 Merchant 3; Desert Force 47 Salim K. 4; Milano 47 C. Alford 2.

1. MILANO (4) 2. DOMINATE (2)

5. Bangalore Turf Club Trophy 1,600m (Cl III, Rt. 22-72) 4.05 pm: High Life 60 Rabani 9; Scimitar 59 Sher S. 5; Acadameus 58.5 Amil 2; Master Charlie 55.5 Engineer 6; Persuasion 55 Shanker 7; Too Soon To Tell 54.5 Manohar 1; Deep Star 53.5 Surender S. 11; Athletico 51 C. Alford 4; Black Mane 50.5 Tamang 3; Charlene 50 M. Reuben 8; Friendly Knight 48 I. Chisty 10.


6. Long Tom Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 4.40 pm: Tejeni 60 Surender S. 3; Storm Centre 57.5 Engineer 1; Ironstone 57.5 Yacoob 9; Marimba 56.5 Shanker 6; Volcano Top 56 Manohar 7; Assyrian 54 A. P. Singh 4; Work Order 53 Merchant 5; Aileron 52 C. Alford 8; Kinkozan 47 Tamang 2.


Day’s Best: Alyssum Double: Ballet Master & Aileron    

A close second to Endorsement in her last start over a mile, the Cooji Katrak-trained filly Au Revoir may be hard to toss in the 1,600m Rusi Patel Trophy in Mumbai on Sunday. Brahm Prakash partners the Broto-Sportin’ Love daughter.


2.20 pm: San Marino Star 1.

2.50 pm: Tall Boy 1. Dark Beauty 2.

3.20 pm: Sorrentina 1. Brave Venture 2. Show The Class 3.

4 pm: Foreign Connection 1. Right Moment 2. Crown Dream 3.

4.30 pm: Rebounding Ray 1. Mujahedin 2. Waltzing Matilda 3.

5 pm: Au Revoir 1. Soviet Ride 2. Princess Jo 3.

5.30 pm: Candescent 1. Bearer Bond 2. Hearts In Motion 3.

5.55 pm: Loveable Lips 1. Buttero 2. Sariano 3.

Day’s Best: Au Revoir Double: San Marino Star & Tall Boy

Saturday’s Bangalore Results

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Champion Trainer Trophy, Div-II 1,200m: (5-2-3) Supreme Glory (Appu) 1; Shearwalk 2; Acharya 3. Won by: 5; 7-1/2; (1-15.6). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 10; 11; 15; Quinella: 15; Tanala: 88. Fav: Shearwalk (2).

2. Leading Tipster Trophy 1,800m: (6-3-5) Touchin Heights (Sharat K.) 1; Solo Spirit 2; Storm Boy 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 5; (1-59.4). Tote: Win Rs 205; Place: 43; 23; 15; Quinella: 653; Tanala: 18,160. Fav: Predominate (4).

3. Champion Trainer Trophy, Div-I 1,200m: (2-9-6) Sensational Lover (Rakesh) 1; Jai Bharath 2; Kingston Heath 3. Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-16.5). Tote: Win Rs 101; Place: 19; 56; 23; Quinella: 1,921; Tanala: 8,771. Fav: Thanks A Lot (3).

4. Leading Bookmaker Trophy 1,400m: (2-4-7) Careless Beauty (Shoban B.) 1; Googy Gangster 2; Rare Jewel 3. Not run: Scala Santa (9). Won by: 3; Nk; (1-31). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 17; 14; 32; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 1,033. Fav: Googy Gangster (4).

5. Racing Patrons Trophy 1,400m: (8-1-3) Scenic Star (Appu) 1; Holy Heights 2; Bounty Bay 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 3/4; (1-27.9). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 15; 25; 11; Quinella: 128; Tanala: 503. Fav: Scenic Star (8).

6. Leading Stud Trophy 1,600m: (7-8-1) Splendid Crown (Appu) 1; Peace Desire 2; Winning Glory 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 3/4; (1-40.3). Tote: Win Rs 76; Place: 22; 17; 11; Quinella: 107; Tanala: 646. Fav: Winning Glory (1).

7. Leading Owner Trophy 1,400m: (5-6-3) One So Wonderful (Marshall) 1; Akasaka 2; Tajik 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-3/4; (1-29.7). Tote: Win Rs 77; Place: 28; 30; 13; Quinella: 647; Tanala: 3,533. Fav: Tajik (3).

8. Champion Jockey Trophy 1,100m: (4-2-9) Good Win (I. Chisty) 1; Financer 2; Amalgamate 3. Won by: 1/2; 3-1/2; (1-10.3). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 14; 18; 38; Quienlla: 61; Tanala: 654. Fav: Good Win (4). (The winner survived objection lodged by the rider of the second placed horse).

Jackpot: Rs 14,636; (C) Rs 1,654.

Treble: (i) Rs 6,127; (ii) Rs 1,384.    


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