Lankan harakiri has Whatmore fuming
My feet will always remain on the ground: Nazir
The pitch queers for Kapil Dev
ACC move to duck ICC guns
Roquibul Hassan relives dreams 2 decades old
No controversy involving Sharjah: Asif
Dutta’s boys start with draw
BSF (N. Bengal) win
Dey-Agarwal city’s best

 
 
LANKAN HARAKIRI HAS WHATMORE FUMING 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Dhaka, June 5 
SRI LANKA 192 (49) PAKISTAN 193/3 (48.2) MoM: Youhana

The display was so insipid, it left Dav Whatmore fuming. The Sri Lankan coach thumped his fists, screamed and howled in the dressing room balcony. The frustration was vivid in expression.

The batting was spineless, the bowling failed to create any impact on the Pakistan batsmen. The Pakistanis, looking more focused and determined with every game, seem destined to win their maiden Asia Cup title Wednesday.

Chasing 193, they set about their task in a planned manner. Imran Nazir’s early dismissal did little damage as Mohammed Wasim (44 off 111 balls, 4x4) and Yousuf Youhana (90 not out off 130 balls, 4x4, 2x6) batted with authority and conviction.

The gameplan was simple. Wait for the loose deliveries while committing no harakiri. Youhana’s presence made Md Wasim’s task easier as he guided his junior partner through the middle overs in scripting a 107-run, second-wicket stand.

With two consecutive Man of the Match awards, Youhana is now very much in the reckoning for the Man of the Series award. He once more held the innings together showing great determination and application.

Md Wasim and Inzamam-ul-Haq’s exit failed to deter him as he guided them to a seven-wicket victory. It will take a lot of character for the Lankans to ensure that this loss does not affect their morale in any way in the final.

Having very little at stake, Pakistan decided to rest Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar and Abdul Razzaq. The youngsters added a new, enthusiastic dimension to the side with the likes of Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Akram and Nazir throwing themselves at about everything inside the circle.

Five run outs were ample evidence of the way the Pakistanis moved about in the field. As direct hits came every now and then, any sluggishness or lapse in concentration was bound to prove fatal.

Aravinda de Silva led the slide, failing to beat a direct hit from Malik in the covers. Russel Arnold, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Kaushalya Weeraratne and Muttiah Muralidharan also left in almost similar manner.

The Lankan batsmen also led to their own doom through some naive running between the wickets. Only Maravan Atapattu (62 off 105 balls, 3x4) and Upul Chandana (46 off 57 balls, 1x4, 2x6) batted with some sense of responsibility.

Atapattu played the anchor role to perfection till being dismissed under controversial circumstances. Nazir had to dive in front at gully before managing to hold the ball ball close to his chest. While the Third Umpire did rule in the fielder’s favour, it appeared that the ball did drop out of Nazir’s grasp as he lay on the ground.

What really mattered in the end was the Lankan batsman’s failure to take advantage of a lacklustre Pakistan attack. Azhar Mahmood (three for 24), however, was the sole exception. He was using the seam to good effect and probing the batsman on or around the off stump. Partnerships were few and far between and Pakistan never let loose the advantage gained early on.    


 
 
MY FEET WILL ALWAYS REMAIN ON THE GROUND: NAZIR 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Dhaka, June 5 
Be it from Ian Chappell or Sourav Ganguly, praise for young Imran Nazir is effusive. In fact, the 18-year-old’s body-language has to be seen to be believed. He will, as they say, go quite a distance.

It’s significant, of course, that Nazir is a brilliant fielder too.

Very shy, Nazir spoke to The Telegraph last evening. His innocence, predictably, came through during the interview.

Following are excerpts

On his background

I come from a fairly big family (six brothers, three sisters) based in Muridke, some 28 kms from Lahore on the Gujranwala-road. Two of my brothers — Sarfraz Azeem, whom I consider my ustaad, and Mushtaq are the ones who really introduced me to cricket. After continuously playing at the club-level in Muridke itself, I joined Lahore’s P&T team in 1998 and, last year, made my Pakistan debut as a 17-year-old (December 1981 born).

On whether being named Imran has anything to do with the Imran Khan-effect

(Laughs) I’ve never asked my parents but, if that’s actually been the case, I’m quite happy as Imran Khan remains my idol. In fact, my first exposure to quality cricket was at a Pepsi-sponsored clinic, overseen by Imran, after the 1992 World Cup. I met him in Sharjah, a couple of months ago, and he was delighted with the start I’ve made in the big league. Mere liye to wohi sab hain.

On his debut (Lahore, Asian Test Championship, versus Sri Lanka)

Bepanah khushi huyi...Of course, it was the realisation of a dream and that, too, at such a young age. I thanked Allah... That I got 64 in the very first innings boosted my confidence.

On not being a regular till recently

After that Test, I made my one-day debut in Vizag (tri-series, against Lanka)... My comeback, too, was versus Lanka — at home, earlier this year. After that, I’ve held my place...

On whether, after his impressive scores in the ODIs and that brilliant Test century in the West Indies (131 in Barbados), he has now sealed a berth in the XI

Consistency alone will ensure that... Jo banda perform karega, usko kaun nikal sakta? It’s too early to talk of a place (in the playing XI) by right. But, yes, getting runs away from home is special.

On his thoughts on the eve of the trip to the Windies — his first ‘big’ overseas tour

I was determined to get noticed, more so because runs against the West Indies are worth quite a lot. People, after all, have always held the Windies in awe. Plus, the team has two of the most experienced quicks (Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose). I’m happy such a major tour came so early in my career. Main ab aur jaldi seekh sakta hoon.

On how he prepared to face world record-holder Walsh

He’s a great bowler, no doubt, but on the field all are equal. The playing arena is to show your own skill, not be overawed by somebody’s reputation. Javed bhai (coach Javed Miandad) helped a lot, at nets... The opposition is kept in mind when he puts me through the paces... Woh mere saath bahut mehnat karte hain... Makes me play on the front foot and back, gets me to execute all shots.

On non-stop cricket for the past few months (it will continue till mid-July)

Well, for a youngster like me, the more the better. The more I play, the quicker I’ll improve. For those of my age, there can never be enough of cricket. Thak nahin sakta.

On preparing for a ‘big’ game

The technical side is looked after by Javed bhai.As for the rest, I take Allah’s name and leave things to him.

On whether he will be comfortable batting down the order as well

Why not? I may be a specialist opener, but I also see myself as a complete batsman. If the situation demands, I will bat in the middle, too. Remember, I came at No.3 on debut.

On playing India

(Laughs again) Josh zaroor rehta hai...

On the players he admires

All teammates... Then, Sachin, Mark Waugh and Ponting.

On how he unwinds

Listening to songs — the happy ones, not those too sentimental... Movies, as well. I quite like Shah Rukh Khan... My favourite actress? (Blushes) Sabhi achchi hain.

On the adulation that has come his way so early in life

(Interrupting) But my feet will always remain on the ground; I won’t get carried away.

On whether the match-fixing allegations have, in a way, somewhat disillusioned a youngster like him

Nahin...As they say, every player should be clear in his conscience... Allegations keep surfacing, lekin khali bolne mein kisi ka kya jata? I regard cricket as a great sport and refuse to believe anybody in my team can get involved.

Finally, the secret of his remarkable body-language

(Smiles) Being positive is all Allah’s doing.    


 
 
THE PITCH QUEERS FOR KAPIL DEV 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Dhaka, June 5 
It’s no secret that Kapil Dev’s appointment as national coach, last September, wasn’t exactly welcomed by all within the Board. Now, with one more defeat and Kapil himself embroiled in a major controversy, those who didn’t welcome him with open arms may get into overdrive.

In fact, a well-placed source of The Telegraph insisted there could be a move to “review” Kapil’s appointment at the Board’s AGM, in September, even though his tenure is for two years.

It wasn’t possible to confirm with Kapil but, apparently, his “letter of appointment” doesn’t specify the period. It does, however, talk of being guided by “mutually acceptable terms and conditions.”

Kapil, it may be recalled, was firm on not assuming charge if the tenure was for one year only (with an option of renewal) — as it was with his predecessors. He said “yes” after the Board made an exception, though he still declared a three-year term would have been preferable.

That, of course, is history. But, along the line, very well documented too have been Kapil’s differences with a senior Board official. They haven’t seen eye-to-eye even though his appointment was masterminded by Jagmohan Dalmiya, the ruling group’s conscience-keeper.

One also learns some of those associated with the team in one capacity or the other, in the Kapil-era, haven’t been too enthusiastic with their feedback.

That alone won’t influence the powers-that-be but, with the team flopping, those not comfortable with somebody as high-profile as Kapil will have hands strengthened.

Kapil’s tenure began with Test and one-day wins against New Zealand but, thereafter, the losses have been heavy — a rout in both versions Down Under, a Test series defeat at home to South Africa, failure to make the finals of the Coca-Cola tri-series in Sharjah and the on-going Pepsi Asia Cup.

The one bright spot, which in any case is ‘tainted’ if the Delhi police are to be given a hearing, is the 3-2 victory over South Africa in the ODIs at home.

If a source is to be believed, quite a few within the Board have actually begun questioning the prudence of effecting such a high-profile appointment. As he put it: “Somebody like Madanlal, who doesn’t have myriad other commitments, was just right. His problem, though, wasn’t being able to communicate. With the competition so fierce, we need a coach who can focus only on his job...”

Fair enough, but the Board knew what it was getting into — the world, at large, knows Kapil’s interests aren’t limited to cricket and golf.

Obviously, India’s poor run has much to do with what many appear to be thinking, but even a call to “review” Kapil’s appointment is sure to trigger one more controversy. More to the point, the Manoj Prabhakar-induced jhamela means every single Board move has to be thought of ten times before it reaches the implementation-stage.

The Board’s AGM (usually in the second-half of September) is some months away and, before that, is the Toronto face-off with Pakistan. Nothing succeeds like success and a win there may just put a stop to the Kapil-specific rumblings. Equally, the Prabhakar case could, by then, take a turn which may lift the ‘cloud’ over the national coach.

Kapil-baiters, therefore, could end up shooting in the dark.    


 
 
ACC MOVE TO DUCK ICC GUNS 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Dhaka, June 5 
Just in case the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) AGM, later this month, results either in Jagmohan Dalmiya-bashing or the sub-continent ends up with brickbats in plenty, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will have its own meeting after — rather than before — the ICC session.

The ICC’s AGM is billed for June 26 and the ACC, which had a meeting here today, decided to hold its own session on June 27.

“The ICC’s AGM could lead to developments which the ACC may have to quickly discuss. And so we’ll meet after, rather than before, the ICC... Yes, it’s a break with tradition,” acknowledged an ACC source of The Telegraph.

Dalmiya, of course, will relinquish charge as ICC president on June 26. He will be succeeded by Australia’s Malcolm Gray.

Meanwhile, the ACC today put the Asia Foundation on track —formally, though, it will come into being on/after June 27. As expected, Dalmiya will be in the chair — his colleagues being the Board presidents of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the UAE.

According to Lt General Tauqir Zia, the ACC president, the Foundation will look after marketing, event-management and “human welfare.” Something on the lines of the Frank Worrell Day, observed by the CAB back home, could be part of the Foundation’s human welfare activities.

Dalmiya’s term, as chairman, is for five years.

General Zia confirmed the ACC will be seeking more development-specific funds from the ICC. He added the ACC’s development committee will be headed by India. It’s been left to the Indian Board to nominate the chairman.    


 
 
ROQUIBUL HASSAN RELIVES DREAMS 2 DECADES OLD 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Dhaka, June 5 
As Bangladesh wait eagerly for June 22, the day their candidature for Test status will be discussed at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in London, Roquibul Hassan is left to ponder over how the Liberation war in 1971 ruined his chances of becoming the second Test player from erstwhile East Pakistan to represent Pakistan.

Medium-pacer Niaz Ahmed, who died in Karachi last month, was the first and played two Tests. Hassan, an opening bat, was the 12th man in the Pakistan side against New Zealand in the 1969-70 Test in Dhaka. “I felt a bit deprived since I thought I deserved to be in the playing XI with the Pakistan team struggling with the opening slot,” he told The Telegraph last evening.

“The biggest moment came when skipper Hanif Mohammed ceremonially handed me the Pakistan cap in the dressing room,” he recalled with a sense of pride. It was Hanif’s last series and the side included stalwarts like Mushtaq Mohammed, Intikhab Alam and Wasim Bari.

But then the Liberation war deprived him of a second chance. “My dreams turned to dust. We (Pakistan) were playing an International XI at the Bangabandhu National Stadium from February 26 to March 1 when Ayub Khan dissolved Parliament where the Awami League had a majority.

“Within hours trouble spread all around Dhaka and the match was abandoned after lunch on the final day. Even then, at 17, and an Intermediate student of Dhaka University, I realised there was no turning away from history. But my Test hopes had ended forever.”

He did visit Pakistan later as part of a World XI, led by Ajit Wadekar in 1977, that played seven one-dayers to mark the centenary of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. “I was the first sportsman from Bangladesh who set foot on Pakistan soil after Liberation. We were introduced to Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on the day of the game in Rawalpindi.

“He came and as we exchanged greetings, I asked for a memento. He immediately handed me over the golf cap he was wearing,” Hassan recollected. That remains one of his fondest memories.

Now, a national selector and a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) member, Hassan is all focussed on his new job. He is confident Bangladesh can live up to its reputation, if given Test status. “You can’t judge a country at the one-day level. We’ve the popularity, the infrastructure and the Test status will help us improve the standards. We may not have been successful so far but we’ve got to begin at a point.”

Hassan is also in the running for the Chief Executive Officer’s post in the BCB and has drawn up extensive plans. “We’re going to select a pool of cricketers and offer contracts. The national A, under-19 and under-15 teams will be given more foreign exposure to groom talent. Moreover, the domestic structure will be spruced up with home and away matches at the inter-district level.”

The War of Liberation may have changed his destiny but like the entire nation he, too, has already set his sights on December 16, Liberation Day and the date set for the first Test match.    


 
 
NO CONTROVERSY INVOLVING SHARJAH: ASIF 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Dhaka, June 5 
“There’s no controversy involving Sharjah, the controversies are else- where,” insisted Asif Iqbal, the CBFS coordinator.

Asif was reacting to a question on whether the CBFS, which organises tournaments there, would streamline things during the next meet — in the second-half of October, featuring India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

“The tournament will be conducted as usual,” Asif said, just to drive home the point.    


 
 
DUTTA’S BOYS START WITH DRAW 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 5 
The local first division football league got underway today with three group A matches. The one at SAI between CRSCL Bhratri Sangha and Howrah Union drew maximum attention with Amal Dutta being the coach of the former.

The match ended goalless but there was some ‘controversy’. Howrah Union protested the prefix their rivals used, saying it was illegal if not passed by the IFA governing body. Though the IFA officials did not receive any letter to this effect till the evening, they clarified the protest is unlikely to be entertained.

The other contentious point was more serious. Their opponents pointed out that some Howrah Union players were registered today itself while according to IFA rules, they can take the field only after 48 hours of doing so. Though a written protest was not launched, the referee, it was learnt, mentioned this in his report. Howrah Union may lose the point if this turns out to be true. In the match Dutta’s wards dominated, Howrah Union’s Somabho Das was marched off for abusing the referee.

In other group A matches, Rajasthan and Railway FC played out a barren draw while Sonali Shibir beat Mohammedan AC 2-0. Raju Ghosh and Debjit Bhowmick scored.

Santos cleared

Brazilian striker Joao Dos Santos has been cleared to play for Mohun Bagan in the forthcoming soccer season. The former Salgaocar striker’s inter-state transfer documents reached the IFA office this afternoon.

Owira leaves for Assam

Kenyan striker Moses Owira, who spent two seasons in Calcutta with Mohammedan Sporting and Tollygunge Agragami, has switched over to Assam’s Dynamo Club. Also joining the Assam club was Port Trust’s Ifeyani Ojeogu. East Bengal medio Ramesh Rawat also left the state and returned to Delhi.

Rahamatullah in Md. Sporting

Veteran defender Rahamatullah Khan has returned to Mohammedan Sporting. He represented ITI, Bangalore, last season. Three more players — Amzad Ansari (ITI), Ashok Mallik (Young Amateurs, Assam) and Dipankar Chowdhury (BMFC) joined Mohammedan Sporting.

Sub-junior probables

Twenty-two probables of the Indian soccer team will leave for Jamshedpur tomorrow to attend the final camp for the Asian sub-junior championship qualifiers beginning there on June 20. The final 20 will be named on June 18.    


 
 
BSF (N. BENGAL) WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 5 
BSF, North Bengal, trounced Sporting Union 6-0 to win the Kaivan Cup hockey tournament at the SAI astroturf today. The BHA second division league champions had also won the title in 1993 and this was their first appearance since.

Sawan Horo put the Siliguri team ahead in the 19th minute and added two more in the 34th and 45th. Evanus Lakra chipped in with two goals and Pankajush Tirkey got the other.

Sub-junior cricket

Sinthee Roypara CC beat hosts Shyamnagar Sabuj Sangha by 31 runs in the Bidyut Ganguly memorial sub-junior cricket meet.    


 
 
DEY-AGARWAL CITY’S BEST 
 
 
BY SANTANU GHOSE
 
 
The 14th worldwide bridge contest, held all over the world Friday and Saturday, attracted a surprisingly poor response in Calcutta. A total of only 48 pairs — about half the usual figure — took part on the two evenings at the Calcutta Club Sports Complex.

In the absence of the instant match-pointing of earlier editions, this year the event has initially been match-pointed locally. The top honours in the Calcutta field over the two days has gone to Bharati Dey and Madan Lal Agarwal who scored 71.13% on Saturday, leaving the top pair of Friday, the experienced duo of Hari Shankar Bajoria and Ajoy Brahmachari, lagging behind on 62.50%. In third place were Madhav Lal Capoor and Anil Sondhi with 61.01% (second on Saturday).

The event will be match-pointed across the worldwide field as scores are transmitted to the London headquarters for the event through internet. But the preliminary worldwide match-point scores will be available only from Monday night at the “www.worldbridge.org” website. As more and more results pour in over the next few days (delays mainly from centres without internet access), worldwide match-point percentages and rankings may undergo some changes and will be final only on June 17.

This year’s Souvenir Book of Hands contain the hands with only minimal analysis; a full commentary on every board from Eric Kokish would be available at the website along with details of any major triumph (or disaster) reported via e-mail.

Even though the local match point percentages would differ from the worldwide ones, these local scores give a reasonable indication of the percentage scores pairs can expect worldwide. While a score of around 70% is unlikely to figure among the top few in the world, the winning score usually being around 80%, often at centres with weak fields, Dey-Agarwal are likely to receive an honourable mention in the rankings and high overall rank in India.    

 

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