S. Africa summon ‘extra’ to stop Pak resurgence
Sourav blames batting
Venkat, Orchard to officiate
It’s the present that counts: Razzaq
4 Indians among ICC ambassadors
ACC needs to be professional, says Tauqir Zia
‘Water’ crisis on Bagan turf
Bangalore ready for RCTC show
Men wins

Sharjah, March 30 
Nowadays, the wily Javed Miandad has that “I-told-you-so” look. And, in case you’ve forgotten, he reminds with a chuckle: “I’d said we could bounce back despite losing the first two matches, and we have.” Teasing unpredictability, after all.

Coach Miandad, of course, also makes it a point to add: “Please don’t ever write off Pakistan.”

After Pakistan’s phenomenal comeback in the Coca-Cola Cup 2000, it’s difficult arguing. But Miandad and Co. would have done well to watch South Africa’s passionate workout this morning — by their own high standards, it was intense with a capital I.

Hansie Cronje’s focussed look, too, as he appeared to plot moves for each of the 50 overs. Even the build-up has that coldly professional flavour.

“Yeah, it’s been a very focussed session... The guys are aware just one day remains. Obviously, we are confident of winning. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have travelled this far,” Cronje pointed out.

However, the South African captain acknowledged Gary Kirsten’s absence — he has a tear in the back-disc — wasn’t insignificant. “He’s such a big name, a key performer (well over 4,000 runs)... At the same time, we do have options to field a winning XI.”

[Kirsten, incidentally, may even miss the forthcoming three-game series at home, versus Australia.]

There were fears another top gun, Shoaib Akhtar, would miss tomorrow’s final but the speedster — he hit an incredible 156 kmph the other evening — seems to be making another incredible recovery from his groin and back problem.

Obviously, Shoaib won’t be hundred per cent fit but if Pakistan could gamble with him in the return-match against India, which marked the team’s comeback, doing a repeat in the final should come easy. Shoaib has been on cortizone injections for weeks now.

The official position is that Shoaib “will bowl at nets,” before the toss, and only then will a decision be taken.

Cronje, by the way, felt a South African win would be “hollow” if Shoaib didn’t play. “We would like him to be in the XI...” If not anything else, this underlines the South Africans’ supreme confidence.

South Africa, clearly, haven’t been too impressed by Pakistan’s recovery.

Still, the comeback is already part of Sharjah’s folklore — in 23 tournaments, Pakistan haven’t made the final just four times — and their performance in the last two games suggests they are peaking perfectly.

Yet, knowing the South Africans, Pakistan would probably have done themselves a favour by not inflicting a crushing 67-run defeat in the last match. South Africa weren’t at full-strength but, as Pakistan captain Moin Khan remarked, “it was a full-fledged one-day international.”

Wanting to be counted in the psychological ‘war’ — a recent trend starring captains across the globe — Moin emphasised Pakistan “can only grow in strength” from the situation they found themselves in. He added: “Without Kirsten, the pressure is on South Africa...”

While Pakistan, then, are drawing plenty of inspiration from Tuesday, Cronje insisted much shouldn’t be read. “We beat Pakistan 14 times on-the-trot, before that evening...That’s the bottomline.”

Cronje, just two short of a phenomenal 100 victories as captain, added: “We are keyed-up to have one more crack at a team which finished above us in the World Cup... Pakistan’s strength is bowling but, at the same time, be it bowling first or second our guys can put batsmen under pressure.”

How the openers, on both sides, handle pressure may largely influence who collects the winners’ cheque of $ 50,000.

Pakistan have the ‘settled’ pair of Shahid Afridi and Imran Nazir, whereas South Africa are set to promote young Neil McKenzie to Kirsten’s slot. Herschelle Gibbs and McKenzie will then open.

Jacques Kallis will come at No.3, followed by either Cronje himself or Mark Boucher.

Till late this evening, there was a ‘debate’ only over two slots: Either Steve Elworthy or Makhaya Ntini will fill one, while the other sees a toss-up between Dale Benkenstein and Derek Crookes. Elworthy could just leave Ntini at the post.

Pakistan should retain the XI that ended the long and embarrassing string of losses to South Africa.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, a strong contender for Man of the Series award ($3,500), and Waqar Younis — who studied in Sharjah and is a favourite of crowds here — are among the top seeds in the cynosure-competition.

For Waqar, specially, the past week has been more than just fruitful.

And, the master of reverse-swing, proved one more point on the very turf he made his debut — back in October 1989. Perhaps, it’s destiny that gave Waqar his 300th wicket here and not anywhere else.

The highest turnout of not just this tournament, but the past few as well, is expected. The returns on every diram spent should be higher.    

Calcutta, March 30 
India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who arrived from a disappointing series in Sharjah this morning, thinks poor batting undid his team in the Coca-Cola Cup triangular tournament there. The Indians lost three of their four matches to be eliminated at the league stage. Pakistan and South Africa play the final tomorrow.

Sourav said there was no devil in the Sharjah pitches and the bowlers’ job was made difficult by the insipid show of the batsmen.

“The pitches were fairly good for batting and our top and middle order failed. It was not possible to defend such low totals on those wickets,” Sourav said.

Sourav, who leaves for England on April 12 to play county cricket for Lancashire, said there should be a conditioning camp before the Asia Cup commences in Dhaka in late May.

Wicketkeeper Syed Saba Karim, who also returned along with the captain, said he was not elated with his performance either. Saba later left for Mumbai to participate in the Times Shield for his employers.    

Sharjah, March 30 
India’s Srinivas Venkatraghavan and South Africa’s Dave Orchard will officiate in the star-spangled Asia XI versus Rest of World match, organised by the ICC, in Dhaka on April 8. The third umpire, it is understood, will be New Zealand’s Doug Cowie.

According to sources, the Match Referee will be former South African captain Peter van der Merwe.

Though the game isn’t a one-day International, it certainly has all the trappings of one.    

Sharjah, March 30 
Tony Greig considers him hot property. Ian Chappell feels pretty much the same. As for Pakistan, everyone is convinced Abdul Razzaq is a winner and will be a stayer.

Razzaq, 21, isn’t just talented, but is deeply committed — even his father’s death, on the eve of the Coca-Cola Cup 2000, couldn’t keep him away for more than a day. Emotionally, he is upset, but Razzaq won’t talk about it.

The shy Razzaq did, however, speak to The Telegraph about his own career last evening. That he is level-headed, came through crystal clear.

Following are excerpts

On his background

I come from a very ordinary family and, like thousands of others, began playing the game in my mohalla...My first exposure to anything outside the mohalla was in 1993, when friends dragged me to an U-16 Pepsi camp... I began graduating from there, making both the Pakistan U-19 and senior team in 1996-97. Actually, I made my one-day debut (Lahore, versus Zimbabwe) without playing first-class cricket. It’s only later that I played for Lahore.

On his idols

Imran Khan, jabse hosh raha hai ... In fact, it was our winning the World Cup under his captaincy (1992) that allowed me to dream of, one day, being part of a champion side... Yes, I have interacted with Imranbhai. In the last World Cup, for instance, he spoke at length about what it means being an allrounder... The responsibilities... He suggested I must always adapt and play to the situation. Kuch khaas tips? Well, that’s a trade secret!

On starting off as a bowler and emerging into a world-class allrounder

My getting dropped was as quick as getting selected. It’s then that Wasimbhai (Wasim Akram) said I shouldn’t get frustrated and, being young, should concentrate on batting as well. Accordingly, I did, and got runs and wickets in the U-19 World Cup in South Africa (1997-98). Uske baad se aap dekh rahe hain. My Test debut, though, was only earlier this season, in Brisbane.

On being promoted as pinch-hitter, a move which paid rich dividends, in the last World Cup

Wasimbhai asked whether I would be game, and I agreed. Of course, he cautioned the entire team would be relying on me and, so... Main ghabraya nahin, instead I got excited. All along, I would be studying batsmen, now, I had the chance to do some batting myself.

On whether that helped cement his place in the XI

(Interrupting) But that wasn’t at the back of my mind... I just wanted to do something for Pakistan. As for playing regularly, only performers make it. Aur kisi ke liye jagan nahin banti. Yesterday is history; it’s the today which counts. Aap ko kal chance milta hai ya hahin, woh aaj pe depend karega.

On the position he prefers in the line-up

(Laughs) Anywhere... Only, send me jab match phasa hua ho. It’s then a challenge and maaza aata hai.

On whether he himself puts in a greater effort in any one department

Nowadays, it’s the same... On the eve of a match, while mentally preparing, I devote as much time to bowling as I do to batting... Incidentally, I don’t like interacting with fans and/or friends on the eve of a game. It can distract, and that’s the last thing I would like.

On the allrounders he admires

Wasimbhai, obviously, and Jacques Kallis. Wasimbhai is an exceptional matchwinner, while Kallis’ confidence is remarkable. He knows he can do it.

On what has he learnt most in his short career

As a professional, you should never give up. Challenges should be met — that, you could say, is my motto.

On being a fitness buff

Main gym work jyada karta hoon... Besides keeping me fit, that helps me relax. A game or two of badminton, as well... Then, Kishoresaab and Rafisaab ke purane gaane hain. I can spend hours listening to them.

Finally, whether having levied that ball-tampering charge against Sachin Tendulkar (in Adelaide), he is prepared for barracking whenever next he plays in India

(Grins) Firstly, I only asked umpire Darrell Hair to check the ball, I never made any allegation... It got twisted, badly misinterpreted... Doosri baat, India vs Pakistan matches mein gaali to khana hi parta hain. Part of the game, isn’t it?    

Calcutta, March 30 
The ICC has chosen 24 ‘ambassadors’ who will assist the game’s world body in its development programmes.

ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya today announced the list which includes 23 former cricketers and former umpire Dickie Bird.

Sunil Gavaskar, Bishen Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri are the Indians in the galaxy of former international stars.

Dalmiya said the ambassadors will mainly visit associate member countries and suggest measures of improvement.

They will not be directly involved in coaching and their prime job will be to advise on the infrastructure and help spread awareness.

This, the ICC president added, will be an honorary job. The appointments, as of now, will be till April, 2001, though they may be renewed. Dalmiya also said that the United Nations and its agencies have joined hands with the ICC and flags of both will be put up during the Cricket Week, to be observed in Bangladesh from Sunday.

A Rest of the World XI will meet the Asia XI in a day-night one-dayer in Dhaka on April 8 as part of the Cricket Week.

Dalmiya said his meeting with Kerry Packer yesterday was not just a “courtesy call” and there were “positive” outcomes but refused to elaborate.    

Sharjah, March 30 
As chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Lt General Tauqir Zia has begun its streamlining. Now, he intends doing the same at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), of which he is president (till 2001).

“Accounts haven’t been audited, there’s a dispute with Coca-Cola (sponsors of the inaugural Asian Test Championship)... Money which ought to have remained in the UAE has been transferred out... Some Boards have seen turmoil... We do need to be professional,” he pointed out, while interacting with the Media.

The mess, it appears, is all Sri Lanka’s doing — after all, the presidency rested with the Lankans till last August. Of course, problems within the Lankan Board contributed to the mess.

To eliminate this, Lt General Zia accepted a suggestion from The Telegraph that the ACC consider establishing a permanent Secretariat, possibly in Sharjah itself. In any case, as the ACC’s funds will be back in the UAE (respecting a decision taken way back in 1983-84), it would make sense having the Secretariat in the Emirates as well.

The ACC, which held a special general meeting yesterday, took quite a few decisions. The ‘big’ ones are:

Setting up the Asia Foundation: As reported yesterday, ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya will head it — he will be chairman. Other members are Lt General Zia, Abdul Rehman Bukhatir, Asif Iqbal and Syed Ashraful Haq. They could have a five-year term.

Though the Foundation will focus on fund-raising and development, Lt General Zia insisted it wouldn’t be a parallel body to the ACC itself. The “terms of reference” and other details will be finalised by mid-June, when the ACC meets in London, ahead of the annual ICC conclave.

That a Foundation has to be constituted is, in a way, an indictment of the ACC as it exists — and functions.

Review of Constitution: The Foundation members will suggest changes. For example, the Constitution has no mention of the finance and development committees.

Transfer of funds back to the UAE: It had been decided, in 1983-84 when the ACC came into being, that funds would remain on neutral ground (the UAE). However, in 1998-99, the Lankans transferred it to Colombo and, when Pakistan took charge, the funds were then deposited in Pakistan. Now, the funds will return to the UAE.

The funds will be deposited with the bank that offers the “maximum interest.”

Development Committee: Will be headed by either an Indian/Pakistani/Lankan, but its members will exclusively be drawn from among the Associates. The ACC president to decide on its composition.

Dispute with Coca-Cola: The multinational hasn’t met its Asian Test Championship commitment because the Pakistan team wore the Pepsi logo. For now, the ACC has ruled out litigation as an option, but it could be exercised. In the meantime, efforts will be made to “amicably” resolve the dispute.

For its part, the ACC is making part-payment ($ 400,000) of the guarantee money to the Indian and Lankan Boards. Pakistan, which is at the centre of the row, has decided not to accept its (part) share.

Under-15 meet in Malaysia: The ACC has sanctioned $45,000 to the Malaysian Cricket Association for the tournament in mid-June.

Asia Cup: The latest edition, being hosted by Bangladesh, will be held between May 28-June 7 (June 8 being the reserve day), not May 28-June 5 as was earlier decided. Also, Bangladesh’s participation fee has been hiked to $ 100,000 from $ 60,000. India, Pakistan and Lanka will gain $120,000 each.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board, incidentally, will get $ 150,000 for hosting the competition.

Future tournaments: The ACC Trophy in the UAE from November 15-24; the next Asia Cup in Pakistan — from April 15-30, 2001. That will feature six teams: India, Pakistan, Lanka, Bangladesh and the ACC Trophy finalists.    

Calcutta, March 30 
Two group A matches in the BHA first division league, scheduled to be held at the Mohun Bagan ground, fell through because of waterlogging on the turf. The matches pitted SAI against WB Police and FCI versus Howrah Union.

While the club officials said they did not know how that happened, the BHA officials smelt something wrong. The relation between the two, in recent times, has not been good and Mohun Bagan had even threatened not to field a team in the league.

The ground, supposed to host the Beighton Cup beginning next week, cannot be used immediately and there will be no matches there before Monday.

Meanwhile, East Bengal rode goals from Yousuf Bhengra, I. Hussain and Peter Das to beat BSF 3-1 at home. P. Dhang was the scorer for BSF. East Bengal led 2-0 at the half time.

In group B, Entally AC beat Khalsa Blues 4-2 with Kailas Rajak (2), Amitava Kanoria and Mohammed Imran Khan doing the scoring. J. Singh and Malkit Singh struck for Khalsa Blues.

A hattrick by Petrus Ekka helped Eastern Railway pip hosts Customs 6-4 in the Daljit Singh Memorial five-a-side hockey meet. Ekka scored five goals with teammate Rajesh Lakra completing the tally. A.P. Thapa and Anwar Sajjad struck a brace each for Customs.

Eastern Railway started poorly, conceding three goals by the seventh minute. But there was no stopping Ekka who took off after Lakra reduced the margin in the 10th minute.

There is no immediate solution to the problem over the condition of wooden galleries in the enclosed grounds in the Maidan.

Subhas Chakraborty, state minister for sports, today said tubular structures, supposed to replace the wooden stands in East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, will not be installed this season. This means like last year, matches at these grounds can be watched by club members only, not by the fans.

He, however, added that sections of the wooden stands would be repaired so that they could accomodate a few. But the section of the gallery of the Mohammedan Sporting ground, which collapsed during a match in 1998, is expected to be repaired before the start of the Calcutta Football League.

Former national women’s table tennis champion Poulami Ghatak and Bengal batsman Nikhil Haldipur are among the seven named sports persons of the year 1999 by Bengali daily Kalantar. Others chosen best in various disciplines are Sandip Nandy (football), Surya Sekhar Ganguly (chess), Manisha Mondal (athletics) and Namita De (kabaddi).

Burra Bazar Yuvak Sabha beat Eastern Railway 54-50 for the state senior knockout basketball title at the state association courts. In the senior division league which concluded last week, Eastern Railway emerged champions on a superior points average after a three-way tie with BBYS and Calcutta Port Trust.    

Bangalore, March 30 
The Wills Indian Turf Invitation Cup finally comes under the starter’s orders. The equine nationals shifted to Bangalore owing to labour trouble at the RCTC, may have lost some of its colour, but the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) has extended all possible help to make it a grand success.

“We are much indebted to BTC and the Turf Authorities of India for helping the RCTC in its hour of need,” said Vineet Verma, CEO and secretary of the RCTC.

Although the venue is Bangalore, it is RCTC who will play host.

Marilingaiah, chairman of the BTC, in his response was ecstatic. “BTC is proud and honoured to stage the Invitation Cup,” he said at a well-attended press conference today.

For ITC, the sponsors of the weekend’s mega-show, it is a great event at hand, according to V. L. Rajesh, who represented the sponsors at the conference. ITC, in all likelihood, will sponsor the event for last time.

The highlight of the weekend is also the presentation of the Wills Racing Awards instituted three years ago. This year’s awardees are Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy (leading owner), Darius Byramji (leading trainer), Aslam Kader (leading jockey) and Usha Group of Stud Frams (leading stud farm).    

The Dhariwal-trained three-year-old gelding Among Men claimed the J. D. and Peggy Banatwalla Trophy at the Mumbai races on Thursday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Air Ace Plate 1,600m: (4-2-1) Touch Of Elegance (Aaron) 1; Seville Star 2; Anchors Aweigh 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-3/4; (1-42.3). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 13; 13; 16; Quinella: 41; Tanala: 158. Fav: Anchors Aweigh (1).

2. Greater Mumbai Police Trophy 1,600m: (3-2-1) Lunar Mist (Gallagher) 1; San Carios 2; Merry Lea 3. Won by: 2; 2-3/4; (1-42.1). Tote: Win Rs 25; Quinella: 19. Fav: Lunar Mist (3).

3. Happy Landing Plate 1,400m: (7-2-1) Immaculate (Chinoy) 1; Heaven Sent 2; Fairy Dust 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 4-1/4; (1-27.9). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 12; 19; 48; Quinella: 47; Tanala: 776. Fav: Immaculate (7).

4. J. D. and Peggy Banatwalla Trophy 1,600m: (1-3-6) Among Men (Shroff) 1; Big Bertha 2; Colonel’s Dream 3. Won by: 5; Nk; (1-42.3). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 12; 11; Quinella: 14; Tanala: 405. Fav: Big Bertha (3).

5. Victory Salute Plate 1,100m: (1-5-6) Fantasy Royal (D. Naik) 1; Doctor No 2; Knight Moves 3. Won by: 3/4; Hd; (1-9). Tote: Win Rs 224; Place: 49; 13; 28; Quinella: 211; Tanala: 6,752. Fav: Evening In Paris (3).

6. Cornelian Plate 1,200m: (1-8-3) Revolution (Kharadi) 1; Loaded Dice 2; Gold Buck 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 1/2; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 58; Place: 25; 32; 21; Quinella: 496; Tanala: 2,911. Fav: Gold Buck (3).

7. Satin Red Plate 1,200m: (6-1-3) Duke Of Albany (Jethu S.) 1; Teaser 2; Hailstorm 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-14.5). Tote: Win Rs 86; Place: 35; 20; 47; Quinella: 189; Tanala: 4,342. Fav: Majesty Of Law (7).

Jackpot: Rs 1,33,539 (Carried over); (C) Rs 2,289.

Treble: (i) Rs 384; (ii) Rs 45,169.    


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