Now is the time for a Masters-level parley
Vishal Uppal in successful debut
Uppal was the leader: Paes
Packer moves in again
TN XI, CISF in quarters
Suave Star for ‘Million’
Percieved Value triumphs

 
 
NOW IS THE TIME FOR A MASTERS-LEVEL PARLEY 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Dhaka, April 8 
Little Master II is game for a one-to-one with Little Master I. In fact, Sachin Tendulkar will himself take the initiative for a “few words” with Sunil Gavaskar.

“I’ve never had reservations talking to anybody... I haven’t been able to speak to Gavaskar, for some time, but will do so at the first opportunity. Perhaps, as soon as I return home (to Mumbai)... An interaction with him can only help,” Sachin told The Telegraph, shortly before leaving the Sheraton for the CricketNext.Com Cup game.

During the Sharjah triangular, Gavaskar wrote that Sachin’s “initial forward movement can get him into trouble if the ball is not pitched up and moves in sharply...” Indeed, in recent times, that one delivery has got the better of Sachin more than once.

Sachin, who had a miserable tournament (managing just 65 in four matches), initially pointed out Gavaskar should have personally spoken to him before letting the world know what he felt. However, Sachin quickly added: “If Gavaskar believes I have a problem, I would like to hear about it from him...”

But was he concerned about the ‘chink’ commented upon by Gavaskar?

“I haven’t thought about it. Problems arise when one isn’t focussed, when the effort isn’t hundred per cent... I’ve been focussed and have always worked to put my best foot forward... I’m coming off a mixed season, yes, but the lows can’t ever be avoided,” Sachin replied.

Looking back on a season where he regained, and relinquished captaincy, Sachin said: “We didn’t play to potential... The defeats in Australia and in the home (Test) series against South Africa will hurt for long... We’re playing far too many one-dayers when, in fact, players should be judged on the strength of their Test-level performances.”

Sachin maintained India ought to have played “better cricket” in Sharjah as well (one win, three losses).

Asked to assess successor Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, Sachin remarked: “We should give him time, instead of commenting straightaway. It’s in Sourav’s interest we allow him to settle and not add to the pressures by talking about what he has done or should be doing.”

Obviously, Sachin had reasons to relinquish the India captaincy, but why had he also decided to give up the top job at the Ranji Trophy-level?

“Because, in the past two years, I think I’ve just played one game (for Mumbai) and if this season, specially, the team has done well (largely under Samir Dighe) I shouldn’t upset equations and a successful pattern by taking back the captaincy. I’m perfectly happy playing, and contributing, as an ordinary member. Commitment, not a designation, matters most.”

It’s a black-and-white explanation which, really, came easy to Sachin.

Incidentally, just last evening, Sachin spoke about being “highly motivated” for today’s day-night extravaganza. This afternoon, despite distressing heat and humidity, Sachin translated that into a superb 80.

After the drama featuring Hansie Cronje, cricket itself needed a handsome knock to get at least some of the ‘right’ headlines back. Sachin didn’t disappoint.

Sachin, meanwhile, plans a two-three week break “from everything” once the series of benefit (read: masala) matches end early next month. After that, will be a return to Dhaka, which hosts the Asia Cup (from end-May).    


 
 
VISHAL UPPAL IN SUCCESSFUL DEBUT 
 
 
FROM AMITAVA DAS GUPTA
 
New Delhi, April 8 
Success in sport is all about grabbing your chances. Syed Fazaluddin failed yesterday, Vishal Uppal didn’t.

Teaming up with Leander Paes in the must-win doubles rubber against South Korea, the local boy vindicated captain Ramesh Krishnan’s decision to pull the off-touch Fazaluddin out of the match.

To say the Davis Cup debutant gave a good account of himself would be an understatement. Uppal actually played the stellar role in the 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Hyung Taik Lee and Yong Ill Yoon.

Pushed to the deep end of the tunnel in front of his home crowd which included his parents and brother, the lanky 23-year-old was relaxed and confident from the first point. It was just as well that Uppal had a nerve-free debut, for his famous partner was strangely subdued for most of the match.

In the first game, Leander came up with three volleying errors to face break-point. He survived that, but a double-fault at deuce gave the Koreans a second chance to get an early break. Luckily for Leander, Yoon opted for an angled volley (which went wide) rather than go for the open space down the middle.

Uppal, on the other hand, served deep or wide to trouble the Koreans and struck his volleys cleanly as well. Lee and Yoon could take no more than three points from the Uppal serve in the entire first set.

Yoon, the thinner and slower of the two Koreans, was clearly their weak link. But despite taking him to deuce twice in the first set, the Indians couldn’t pressurise him mainly because Leander failed to get any rhythm on his returns.

The tie-breaker was tight, till Lee whipped a backhand down-the-line service return past the lunging Uppal. That one shot made all the difference and the Koreans were a set up.

It was crisis time for the hosts who were desperate to win today to give Leander a shot at closing out the tie in the first reverse singles tomorrow. As is the routine these days with the Indian team, they looked up to Leander to provide the spark and lift spirits. Surprisingly, it came from the thin and lean Uppal.

A smooth backhand service return passed Lee to signal the first service-break in the match. It came in the first game and that, too, at the expense of the man who was playing some solid tennis. With Leander looking a toothless tiger, the Indian camp couldn’t have asked for more from Uppal.

Leander, who has had very little success in doubles this year with a clutch of partners, looked rusty and lacked ideas. His serving, at least, improved and the Indians sailed through the second set without a hiccup. For a moment, one got to see the original Leander as he indulged in some chest-butting with his partner.

If losing the second set wasn’t bad enough, the Koreans slumped further at the start of the third set. Targetting Yoon, the Indians earned not one but two breaks. An Uppal lob resulted in the first one, while a net-cord winner off a Leander forehand gave them the second.

The Koreans pulled one break back, as Leander double-faulted in game VI. But there were no further alarms and the noisy crowd was soon celebrating India’s two sets to one lead.

Leander had got into some sort of a groove by then, getting his forehand to travel accurately and lobbing with great accuracy. Young Uppal, though, started showing signs of vulnerability.

His forehand volleys found the net with disturbing frequency and double-faults began surfacing at the wrong moments. From 40-0 in the second game of the fourth set, he produced three back-to-back double-faults. Another double-fault in the sixth game gave the Koreans a break-point.

The Indians did well to wriggle out of those tense situations, but failed to take the chances the Koreans offered them on their serve. Yoon survived one break-point in game 3, while Lee got out of jail (he was 0-40) in game 5.

Things got a bit tense when a furious Leander objected to the Korean coach talking in between Uppal’s first and second serves. It took a few minutes for Leander to cool down, but that didn’t cost the team anything. Playing an error-free tie-break, the Indians got home capitalising on a Yoon double-fault. Quite appropriately, Uppal finished it off with his 10th ace.

Uppal was a delighted man, climbing the railings to jump into the embrace of family members. He was entitled to such emotions, having passed a major test.    


 
 
UPPAL WAS THE LEADER: PAES 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, April 8 
The capital hasn’t had a direct ‘input’ in the country’s Davis Cup campaign for a long, long time. So when Vishal Uppal got his act together following a godsend opportunity, the Delhites’ joy knew no bounds at the R.K. Khanna Stadium this afternoon.

His younger brother Kunal, the cheerleader of a vociferous group on the northern stand, screamed his guts out. So did hordes of other tricolour-waving teenagers. And after their efforts had borne fruit, culminating in a four-set win for the Indian pair, all of them wanted a piece of their hero.

Compliments and kudos poured in torrents. None of them, though, could have been more precious than the one he got from Leander Paes. “Vishal took a lot of load off me... He was the leader out there on court today,” the world’s top doubles player said of his rookie partner.

Leander, admitting he was struggling for form today, said he was getting a “little frustrated” after the Koreans had won the first set. “But Ramesh (Krishnan) and Vishal did a good job of keeping me calm and focussed.”

Former captain Naresh Kumar, who exactly a decade ago took an even bigger gamble (than Ramesh) by fielding 16-year-old Leander in the doubles against Japan, described Uppal’s showing as sterling. “Leander’s gutsy performances in the last decade are rubbing off on the new generation,” Naresh observed.

Korean captain Won Hong Joo also saluted Uppal, saying his boys would have won if Fazal had played today. “Your new boy was not nervous, he played a very good match.”

Ramesh revealed that Leander had first mentioned the idea of trying out Uppal in doubles about a month back. “But we actually decided to replace Fazaluddin after yesterday’s matches,” Ramesh said.

There were three factors which influenced Ramesh’s decision to bring in Uppal. “Vishal is a Delhi boy, so I felt that would give us a boost. Also, his and Leander’s personality gell well. Then there was the factor of Leander preferring the right court. That came automatically as Vishal plays from left court.”

Uppal said he was confident going into the match as he had been playing well in practice the last 10 days. “And it was easy with Leander there by my side.”    


 
 
PACKER MOVES IN AGAIN 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Dhaka, April 8 
Having become the first dotcom venture to sponsor a global cricket event — the Asia XI vs Rest of World match — CricketNext.Com is set for bigger things. And, towards that end, has received a fillip with Kerry Packer’s involvement.

Packer and his Indian partners, it is learnt, have picked up a 33 per cent stake in Walchand NetSoft Private Limited, promoters of the website.

Significantly the website, marketed as ‘India’s latest and coolest,’ will soon put up a coaching section, a feature of which will be former cricketers offering tips.    


 
 
TN XI, CISF IN QUARTERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 8 
Tamil Nadu XI and CISF today reserved berths in the quarter final league of the 105th Beighton Cup hockey tournament while CRPF moved into the pre-quarters.

CISF rode Mangra Munda’s ‘golden goal’ to beat Sikh Regimental Centre 1-0 and Tamil Nadu XI edged BNR 2-1. CRPF trounced ITBF 4-1.

CISF and Sikh Regimental Centre forced ten and six penalty corners, respectively, but regulation time ended goalless. The all-important goal came two minutes into extra time when Cyril Ekka found Munda from the right flank.

Tamil Nadu XI surged ahead in the 11th minute when Cedric D’Cruz struck following a penalty corner. BNR replied through Anmol Aind 15 minutes later before Arun Kumar sealed the fate of the match with a 62nd-minute strike.

ITBF forced seven penalty corners against CRPF but could not convert more than one. The 63rd-minute goal by A. Nag proved too late as CRPF had already taken a 4-0 lead by that time. Tapen Kuzur (2), Tarlok Ram and V. Hembram were the scorers for CRPF.

BHA League

In a second division match of the BHA League, BSF North Bengal humbled Aurora AA 3-0. Vivid YHC beat Khalsa Sporting 3-1 and Bengal United Club pipped Hockey Training Centre 1-0. The Calcutta Wanderers-Ranganathpur Union match ended goalless.    


 
 
SUAVE STAR FOR ‘MILLION’ 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
 
Further improved since her last run away victory, Suave Star is expected to strike the 1,200m Gool S. Poonawalla Million in Mumbai on Sunday. N. McCullagh partners the Altaf Hussain-trainee.

SELECTIONS

2.20 pm: Pass The Buck 1. Forest Fire 2. Great Pasha 3.

2.50 pm: Dominant Force 1. Silently 2.

3.20 pm: Smash For Cash 1. Ushta Te 2. Capri Classic 3.

4 pm: Style Counsel 1. Place de Ville 2.Bolt Of Lightning 3.

4.30 pm: Suave Star 1. Fantasy 2. Stavros 3.

5 pm: Communicator 1. Storm Again 2. Tapanzee 3.

5.30 pm: White Metal 1. Secret Treasure 2. All Game 3.

5.55 pm: Heaven’s Feel 1. Ghost Who Walks 2. Pussy Cat 3.

Day’s Best: Pass The Buck Double: Suave Star & White Metal    


 
 
PERCIEVED VALUE TRIUMPHS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
 
Partnered by K. P. Appu, debutante Perceived Value claimed Martell Mile in Mumbai on Saturday. Dallas Todywalla trained the Razeen-Gonrgandine three-year-old filly to three parts of a length victory over Machrihanish.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Ocean Park Plate 1,800m: (5-6-2) Saranyu (Sandeep) 1; Sea Sprite 2; Miracle 3. Won by: Dist; 2-1/4; (1-58.1). Tote: Win Rs 62; Place: 31; 38; Quinella: 289; Tanala: 1,664. Fav: Shooting Mercury (3).

2. Gateway Of India Plate 1,100m: (6-1-4) My Solitaire (Rupesh) 1; Secret Blessing’s 2; Addab 3. Won by: 1-1/2; Nk; (1-8.1). Tote: Win Rs 164; Place: 38; 21; 20; Quinella: 861; Tanala: 12,656. Fav: Gay Minstrel (2).

3. Serenade Plate 1,600m: (2-8-5) Sicalade (Shroff) 1; Sparkling Champagne 2; Power Surge 3. Won by: 2-1/2; SH; (1-42.8). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 17; 30; 21; Quinella: 178; Tanala: 1,188. Fav: Sicalade (2).

4. Multirosa Trophy 1,200m: (5-7-3) Strength To Strength (McCullagh) 1; Run For Glory 2; Table Dancing 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 2-3/4; (1-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 16; 25; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 270. Fav: Strength To Strength (5).

5. Rose De Bahama Trophy 1,600m: (8-5-6) Mariella ( (Rajendra) 1; Northern Angel 2; Fin-De-Siecle 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-41.3). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 14; 25; 16; Quinella: 150; Tanala: 1,276. Fav: Altiama (3).

6. Martell Mile 1,600m: (5-3-1) Perceived Value (Appu) 1; Machrihanish 2; L. A. Woman 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-3/4; (1-42.4). Tote: Win Rs 47; Place: 16; 23; 29; Quinella: 163; Tanala: 2,465. Fav: Tout De Suite (8).

7. Bejan Bharucha Trophy 1,000m: (8-4-6) Heart Beat (Rajendra) 1; Phrawah 2; Grand Lodge 3. Not run: Agni Sikha (9). Won by: Hd; 3-1/4; (1-2). Tote: Win Rs 110; Place: 29; 18; 16; Quinella: 185; Tanala: 936. Fav: Phrawah (4).

8. Remembrance Plate 1,000m: (10-6-7) My Blue Moon (Prakash) 1; Boldwin 2; Hiccups 3. Won by: 9; 3/4; (1-1.4). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 11; 44; 48; Quinella: 159; Tanala: 4,296. Fav: My Blue Moon (10).

9. Noble Way Plate 1,200m: (8-9-3) Gagan Glory (Kamlesh) 1; Navroze Supreme 2; Nuclear Power 3. Won by: Nk; 2; (1-15.5). Tote: Win Rs 62; Place: 23; 41; 21; Quinella: 581; Tanala: 6,828. Fav: Money Madness (5). (Note: Nuclear Power survived objection lodged by the rider of fourth placed horse).

Jackpot: Rs 20,467; (C) Rs 523.

Treble: (i) Rs 4,187; (ii) Rs 290; (iii) Rs 891.

Races advanced

Calcutta, April 8

In view of Muharram declared on April 16, the stewards Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) have decided to advanced the April 15 race-meeting to April 13, according a Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) notification. In view of the above change, inter-state betting will be held at RCTC.    

 

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