“Well done laad, I liked your batting and you were wundderful in the field. Keep it up and make sure you aren’t a flash in the pan,” Boycott told Yuvraj, as they crossed each other at the Nairobi Gymkhana, assured perhaps that the last word would again be his.
The strapping six-footer, however, was equal to the occasion: “I can’t afford to: With your comments, Sir, you will then make life hell for me...” At a loss for an immediate response, Boycott grinned and merely said: “As I’ve told you, laad, don’t be a flash in the pan...”
Yuvraj had dropped in at the Pakistan-Sri Lanka KnockOut game.
Well, this 18-year-old’s confidence — on the field (though he has a story there) and off it — is amazing. And while Yograj Singh’s eldest son appears the bindaas sort, his eyes have that look which will carry him far.
Bound by the Board’s Code of Conduct, Yuvraj, who turns out for Indian Airlines and is on a stipend with them, couldn’t give a formal interview. However, he informally spoke to The Telegraph over lunch yesterday and at the Inter-Continental, in the evening, after the powers-that-be allowed “profile-specific” questions.
Following are excerpts
On his father’s reaction
(Laughs) Predictably, the first thing he said was: “Why didn’t you go for the hundred?” I responded by saying “Dad, I knew you would say just that”. (Adds after a pause) Dad didn’t have much of an international career. Today, then, I suppose he’s realising his own dreams through me.
On whether he actually had the hundred in mind (in his second match but very first innings)
At one stage, yes... I mean, I thought I could get there if I batted till the 50th over, but we began losing wickets quickly and I realised I should try for runs off every ball, in the team’s interest, rather than think of a possible hundred. I have no regrets.
On how he celebrated
The team went out for dinner, but I rested. It had been a tough day and I wanted to put my leg up.
On whether life will change after that outstanding innings of 84 (80 deliveries, 12x4)
Honestly, I can’t understand why I should be mobbed after one innings... I can see life won’t be the same, but I’m intent on staying focussed on cricket. Jee haan, distractions aaye ge, but I’m going to remain level-headed. I’ve got no choice, have I? It’s easy for people to make demands and raise expectations, what can be tough is delivering.
[At the hotel last evening, when a fan implored he “must” get a hundred in the semi-finals, Yuvraj countered smiling: “But if I don’t, kuch aisa waisa maat kehna...”]
On his remarkable body-language, which has confidence written all over
(Laughs again) You may not believe it but, till I’ve faced the first ball, I’m terribly short on confidence... Us samay tak, confidence bilkul nahin rehta... Frankly, I only look confident. However, after that first ball, I’m equal to whatever the challenge. Uske baad mujhe rokna mushkil hai. Thereafter, everything comes naturally.
On whether his father (who has had a concrete pitch laid at their Chandigarh residence) has had the biggest influence
Yes, you could say that. Also Sukhwinder ‘Baba’, the one coach who has worked so hard with me. I’m indebted to Bishan Bedi, too. Each time I’m in Delhi, I make it a point to have sessions with him. Actually, I started off as a quick, like Dad, but decided to switch to batting and spin. Woh decision mera tha.
On whether he sees himself as a batsman who can bowl, or an allrounder
Allrounder, I’m quite clear about that. My favourite allrounder, by the way, is Wasim Akram.
On the one cricketer he idolises
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar... He’s my inspiration, my icon... Everything... I’ll never forget the affectionate manner in which he congratulated me after Saturday’s win. Also won’t forget his advice: “Don’t change what comes naturally”. As a person, too, Sachin is somebody to emulate. He’s incredibly level-headed... I admire Saeed Anwar as well.
On having been in and out of the Punjab team till last season
I wouldn’t like to say much, but I remember telling myself that one day they’ll pick me for my fielding only. My first game was in 1996-97, I think, and I got out for a duck to Debashish Mohanty.
On being such an outstanding fielder
One has to work hard, yes, but whatever I do comes naturally. As I’ve said, it’s the same for my batting.
On the U-19 World Cup exper-ience
Great... My biggest exposure till then and, really, that one tournament pitchforked me to the limelight at the national level. My journey to this big league, then, started in Colombo.
On the difference between purely domestic cricket/international U-19 circuit and the real cricket
One has to adjust in the mind. After all, the bat and ball remain the same... From what I’ve learnt, in these few days, it’s changing gears mentally that is crucial. In any case, at this level, loose balls won’t come on a platter.
On interests outside cricket
Music. I just freak out... Aap kuch bhi mujhe de do... I’ll listen. Incidentally, my younger brother (Zorawar) will probably end up a musician.
Finally, on that epic 358 in the Cooch Behar final at the Keenan
(Smiles) It’s like this: Our coach, ‘Baba’, was at the receiving end of taunts, specifically that we couldn’t get to the opposition’s total of 358. So, he came to me and said: “Izzat ka sawaal hai... Don’t get out before we’ve crossed them.” As it turned out, I alone got 358. Destiny.
From this morning, though, the Indian captain has ‘switched’ on to Friday’s ICC KnockOut Kenya 2000 semi-final.
“I wish it wasn’t that many days after our quarter final (last Saturday)... It’s important to keep the momentum going,” Sourav told The Telegraph at his Inter-Continental hotel room, this afternoon. In between constantly rewinding the ‘Mere humsafar...’ song from Refugee, Sourav both looked back and ahead during a 20-minute interview.
Following are excerpts
Q Under your captaincy, we’ve beaten the West Indies in Toronto, defeated South Africa in India and beat Australia in a big game here. Which win has provided that extra satisfaction?
A All wins will remain special for different reasons but, yes, downing the world champions perhaps is more satisfying. At the same time, defeating Australia wasn’t an end in itself. Rather, it’s only been a means to an end.
Q Surely, each victory as also defeat, must have taught you something?
A One keeps learning. Sometimes from mistakes, at other times from something which may have clicked. It’s important to be fully aware of the strengths of each individual in the team... Which bowler will be effective in a particular situation, for example.
Q How flexible are you with gameplans?
A Oh, very. There have been times when I’ve discussed a move at the team meeting but, out in the middle, I’ve done just the reverse. Planning is fine, but what if ground realities are different?
Q Were you terribly disappointed on losing the toss, the other day?
A I was... Had the choice been left to me, I would have fielded. But, I didn’t mind batting because, generally, I favour setting a target. (Adds laughing) Wasn’t a bad toss to lose.The captain has to stay cool... After all, the right things don’t come to your mind when you’re hyper.
Q Is it tough staying calm in a tight situation? For instance, were you flustered when Brett Lee began tonking?
A (Smiles) Well, the captain has to stay cool... After all, the right things don’t come to your mind when you’re hyper... As for Lee, I was confident we had the bowling to get him. In any case, he’s no frontline batsman. As he went for anything pitched up, I asked the bowlers to bowl just short. It worked.
Q That last spell of Zaheer Khan, which evicted Steve Waugh... Did you have specific instructions?
A Steve expected another short ball, but I’d asked Zaheer to pitch it up... Really, it’s the bowler who should get credit, not the captain. I’m delighted with Zaheer’s performance and have high hopes. In fact, he touched 90 mph that day...
Q One saw Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble offering suggestions, on Saturday, while you yourself would go up to vice-captain Rahul Dravid. How responsive are you to ideas from senior pros?
A Very... Some of them have played more cricket than me and, so, something could emerge from their thinking as well. I can’t build a wall around myself.
Q Your thoughts on Yuvraj Singh...
A That pressure be kept away from him and that he should play his natural game. The next match (Friday’s semi-final) will be tougher for him than most others, because of the expectations, but he’s confident and should continue to play freely. As captain, I’ll leave him alone.
Q Either England or South Africa will meet India Friday. What are the strengths of both sides?
A I’ll only say both are good teams. I’ll also repeat what I told you before the KnockOut began — that no team is unbeatable. We’re ready for whoever wins tomorrow’s quarter final.
Q Many here have made India favourites, after Australia being knocked out. Now, then, will there be actual pressure on India?
A No. We’re capable of winning, though I accept there’s a big difference between being capable and actually delivering... I’ve been telling the team that we’ve got to fight till the last ball, that I’ll accept defeat if we’ve put in our hundred per cent. We shouldn’t lack in effort; should play our hearts out.
Q Will crowd support be a factor?
A To an extent definitely.
Q The final question. Irrespective of where we finish, hasn’t Indian cricket got the much-needed image make-over with that win over the world champions?
A I hope so... I’m not casting aspersions on anybody but, if a few stupid individuals have engaged in something unethical, the rest too shouldn’t be condemned. All five fingers aren’t the same, are they? This is a bunch of honest triers... Give us time.
It’s an ‘exclusive’ they could have done without.
Sheikh Saifur Rahman, Saifur Rahman Khokon and Mustafa Mamun, cricket correspondents of leading publications, were beaten and robbed as they were returning to their hotel. And all this while they were being given a courtesy drop by Faisal Memon, systems administrator of the company which has provided (pay-and-use) computers in the Media Centre.
Memon was dropping off a colleague, not far from the Nairobi Gymkhana, when six car-jacker-thugs forced themselves into his Mitsubishi Eterna — at gunpoint, no less. That started ten minutes of “hell,” as Memon told The Telegraph.
While three thugs pushed themselves into the front seats, with one taking over the wheel, the others parked themselves on the laps of the journalists. Punching and blows followed, with the thugs even smashing the spectacles of two Bangladeshis.
At the front Memon was asked to surrender whatever money he had, around Kenyan shillings 2,000 (75 to one US dollar), his watch and the company provided walkie-talkie. That didn’t seem to please the thugs and one began hitting him with a revolver butt.
Fortunately, that was a brief exercise. Even more fortunately, the one other revolver-wielding thug didn’t join in.
After ten minutes, the thugs pulled up at a secluded spot and pushed out Memon. Then, one by one, the journalists were asked to part with valuables: Kenyan Shillings (about 32,000, $ 20-25 only, thankfully), cameras, watches, micro-cassette recorders and even passports.
The ‘collection’ over, the journalists and Memon were asked to face the nearest wall and warned not to turn around. That done, the car-jacker thugs made a quick getaway. With the Mitsubishi, of course.
After a while, Memon flagged down a passing vehicle, borrowed the owner’s mobile and called his boss. While one report was lodged at the nearest police station last night, another was filed this morning, at the station under whose jurisdiction the drama began.
Memon’s car was traced this afternoon, but nothing else has been recovered. The incident, however, hasn’t stirred the locals. “Keeps happening more than once, every day,” has been the common response.
But if that gives no comfort, shocking was the organising committee chairman Sharad Ghai’s reaction. When the journalists and Memon contacted him, last night itself, he responded indifferently: “We don’t have a contract for anybody’s security.”
It left the journalists, in particular, fuming. If not anything else, Ghai should at least have expressed regrets. The ICC, which gave a pre-tournament assurance that all would be safe, has “promised” to see what can be done.
It’s amazing the ICC opted for Nairobi, which has an appalling security-record, as the venue for such a mega-event. Clearly, there must be limits to this globalisation nonsense.
Grayson, a left-arm spinner who turns out for Essex, has already arrived. Giles, a similar type of bowler, does duty for Warwickshire.
Giles has an injury to his left calf muscle, but should be fit for the forthcoming tour of Pakistan, England’s next stop.
National record holder Shakti Singh was upstaged by Jaivir Singh of Services in men’s shot put as most stars, including Paramjit Singh, Bahadur Singh, Rosa Kutty and Rachita Mistry decided to stay away.
Hardeep Kaur created the national mark in women’s hammer with 58.95m, eclipsing Jebeswari Devi’s 58.36.
The meet record was set by G.G. Promila of Railways in women’s long jump who cleared 6.38m to better Lekha Thomas’ record of 6.33.
Reigning champions Railways won six of the day’s 16 events but Jaivir denied them a seventh by stunning Shakti. Jaivir cleared 18.75 and Shakti managed a disappointing 18.43.
Women’s 400m star K.M. Beenamol did turn up for the meet and anchored the Railways women’s team to victory in the 4x400m relay. Bengal’s lone medal, in men’s 800m, came through Arghya Majumdar and the state women’s 4x100 women’s relay team finished fourth.
MEN: 100m: (first two separated after photo finish): Sachin Navale (Mah, 10.75); 2. C.T. Durai (Rly, 10.75); 3. Anand Menezes (Rly, 10.8). 800m: 1. P. Jai Kumar (Bih, 1:53.35); 2. Anand Singh (Har, 1:53.54); 3. Arghya Majumdar (Ben, 1:53.71). 10,000m: Harish Tiwari (LIC, 31:04.08); 2. B.S. Lone (Rly, 31:04.25); 3. Aman Saini (Steel PSB, 31:05.08). Triple jump: 1. Amarjit Singh (Pun, 15.56m); 2. Gokulchand Mahanto (Pol, 15.44); 3. Sanjay Dwivedi (Ser, 15.40). Shot put: Jaivir Singh (Ser, 18.75); Shakti Singh (Rly, 18.43); 3. Avtar Singh (Rly, 18.17). 400m hurdles: 1. Visakh Mani (Rly, 52.16); Avishek Pandey (LIC, 52.93); 3. Shish Pal (Rly, 53.66). Pole vault: 1. Shyam Sekhar Singh (Pol, 4.70m); 2. Jitendra Kumar (UP, 4.60); 3. Raj Kumar (Del, 4.50). 4x400 relay: 1. Railways (3:09.07); 2. Services (3:12.69); 3. Bihar (3:18.90).
WOMEN: 200m: V. Pandeswari (Rly, 24.59); Manjit Kaur (Pol, 25.22); G. Vasanti (LIC, 25.23). 400m hurdles: Asik Bebi (Pol, 58.66); 2. Sapinder Kaur (Pun, 59.50); 3. S. Oraon (Rly, 59.78). Javelin: Gurmeet Kaur (LIC, 50.96); 2. Gurpreet Kaur (Har, 46.27); 3. Hemalatha (Rly, 45.59). Long jump: G.G. Promila (Rly, 6.38 NMR); 2. Shilpa Senuera (Kar, 6.00); 3. A.K. Deepa (Pol, 5.97). Hammer throw: Hardeep Kaur (LIC, 58.95, NR); 2. Jebeswari Devi (Rly, 54.75); 3. Phulpati (Pol, 54.46). 4x100 relay: 1. Police (47.31); 2. Railways (47.41); 3. Punjab (48.18). 4x400 relay: 1. Railways (3:43.99); 2. Punjab (3:44.71); 3. Bihar (3:18.90).
ACCEPTANCES1. Ootman Handicap 1,400m (Cl V; Rt. 00-28) 1.20 pm: Alastar 60; Anntari 56.5; Chicarica 56; Bird’s Empire 55.5.
2. Saloon Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 2 pm: Sky Hawk 60; Heaven’s Blessing 57; Floral Path 57; Alterezza 55.5; Avionic 54; Time Of Times 53; Santillana 52; Friendly Knight 52 .
3. Defence Forces Cup 1,400m (Cl I; Rt. 88 & over)
2.30 pm: Kaizen 60; Tanganyika 58.5; Allodium 56; IIlustrious Reign 53.5; Giorgio 51.5; Aldebro 47.5.
4. Fair Manzar Handicap1,000m (Cl V; Rt. 00-28) 3 pm: Arizona Star 61; Run Ahead 60.5; Go India Go 56; Adeline 54.5; Armila 53.5; Fibonacci 49.
5. Unknown Warrior Cup 1,400m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 3.35 pm: Sky Command 61; Abstract 60.5; Remember The Day 57; Super Smile 56.5; Rheinheart 54; Charlene 54; Black Mane 52.5; Bul Bul 51; Ballet Master 48.5; Artifact 47.5.
6. St. Quinn Handicap 1,000m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.10 pm: Consul’s Secret 60; On The Bit 58; Work Order 56.5; Software 55.5; Double Dancer 55.5; Diplomatic Gesture 54; Amistad 54; Royal Ruler 53; Magic Ring 51.
Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.
Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.
SUNDAY’S PUNE RESULTS
(With inter state dividends)
1. Stunning Plate (5-3-6) Northern Temptress (Gallagher) 1; Sugar Daddy 2; Reactor 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; (1-30.3). (W) Rs 19; (P) 13; 13; 20; (Q) 43; (T) 233. Fav: Northern Temptress (5).
2. Sir H. M. Mehta Trophy (2-3-1) Anagram (Kader) 1; Seychelles 2; Ally McBeal 3. Won by: Nk; 7; (1-42). (W) Rs 28; (P)19; 14; (Q) 40; (T) 94. Fav: Ally McBeal (1).
3. October Handicap (2-6-1) Oh So Quick (Kharadi) 1; Seventh Star 2; Alice Charms 3. Not run: Different Crown (3). Won by: 5-1/2; 3/4; (1-13.7). (W) Rs 24; (P) 12; 29; 13; (Q) 126; (T) 438. Fav: Oh So Quick (2).
4. Wild Blossom Plate (6-5-10) Sea Minstrael (R. Pandey) 1; Meringue 2; Krishna Priya 3. Not run: Afilado (7). Won by: 3/4; Dist; (1-7.7). (W) Rs 40; (P) 15; 11; 13; (Q) 26; (T) 129. Fav: Meringue (5).
5. Crystal Plate , Div-II (9-11-7) Royal Partner (Rupesh) 1; Rich Rewards 2; Rumaan 3. Won by: 2-3/4; SH; (1-15.8). (W) Rs 287; (P) 51; 76; 19; (Q) 3,211; (T) 52,096. Fav: Gold Berg (4).
6. Romantica Plate (8-10-3) Court Of Law (S. N. Chavan) 1; Golden Glitter 2; Capri Classic 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 1-1/4; (1-44.1). (W) Rs 52; (P) 18; 20; 27; (Q) 75; (T) 1,136. Fav: Golden Glitter (10).
7. Western India Owners Fillies’ And Mares Stakes (7-1-3) Sonalika (B. Prakash) 1; Al Dente 2; Favorite Trick 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 3-3/4; (1-54.7). (W) Rs 179; (P) 33; 15; 26; (Q) 168; (T) 3,123. Fav: Pleasures (6).
8. Crystal Plate, Div-I (7-10-8) Kilmore Quay (Rupesh) 1; Piece Of Art 2; Authentic 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 3-3/4; (1-15.1). (W) Rs 405; (P) 53; 27; 17; (Q)564; (T) 4,624. Fav: Flossy (5).
9. Shipshape Plate (4-1-10) Natural Grace (Gallagher) 1; Heavy Weight 2; Tiger Talk 3. Won by: 1-3/4; SH; (1-14.7). (W) 19; (P) 14; 22; 26; (Q) 71; (T) 299. Fav: Natural Grace (4).
Jackpot: Rs 2,19,770 (Carried over to October 15);
Trebel: (i) Rs 199; (ii) Rs 14,187; (iii) Rs 50,300.