India look to exploit Cronje factor
Pollock & Co. still miss Hansie Cronje
I have a long way to go: Zaheer Khan
NZ to wait till tomorrow
Vijay in lead
Jr boxing camp
Thunder Struck for main event
Mysore results

 
 
INDIA LOOK TO EXPLOIT CRONJE FACTOR 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Nairobi, Oct.12: 
The last India-South Africa one-day International was less than seven months ago, yet it seems an eternity has passed. In the interregnum, South African cricket has seen an agonising recast; cricket in India is headed much the same way. If anything, the pain should be considerably less.

It’s with this backdrop that India and South Africa meet again, in semi-final No. 2 of the ICC KnockOut Kenya 2000 tomorrow. The winners meet New Zealand Sunday. The competition’s inaugural edition, in 1998 (Dhaka), was won by South Africa.

Incidentally, South Africa emerged best in both previous appearances at the Nairobi Gymkhana — 1996 and last year, when they beat India in the LG Cup final.

That’s certainly a plus for South Africa, but the Hansie Cronjes and Herschelle Gibbs aren’t around now. South Africa have shown they can win without them — defeating Australia at home (just days after Cronjegate) and bagging the Singapore tri-series — but in a crunch match such as tomorrow’s, they will be missed more than ever.

That Cronje won’t ever return was confirmed only yesterday and, clearly, Shaun Pollock’s team could have done without this piece of news. It has left Pollock “hoping” the players would quickly put the latest Cronje-development behind them.

So, on the face of it, the Indians have an advantage in the build-up to the shootout.

What remains to be seen, however, is how many ‘points’ will that actually translate to on the field. Points snatched (and conceded) during the 100 overs alone count.

Unlike South Africa, who were seeded into the quarters, India have come through the qualifying phase. But both victories — over Kenya and world champions Australia — were convincing. The South Africans steamrolled England, in their only game.

While knocking off Australia has given the Indian challenge a new dimension, it has also raised expectations Mount Kilimanjaro-high. And, perhaps, it would have suited India better had the semi-final been slotted a couple of days after the Australia match, instead of almost a week.

“That’s definitely a point but, then, we’ve got to adjust to the way the cookie crumbles,” remarked Sourav Ganguly. What has infuriated him (and coach Aunshuman Gaekwad) more is that the tournament organisers refused permission to practise at the Gymkhana.

“The practice wickets (at the Ruaraka Sports Club) have been terrible. How does one prepare for a key game on such wickets?” Sourav asked, as Gaekwad chipped in with: “Earlier this week, our request for fielding practice (at the Gymkhana) was turned down... Then, late yesterday, I was told we could only train at Ruaraka. This is ridiculous.”

South Africa, too, couldn’t have their workout at the Gymkhana — they were packed off to the Simba Union Club. The wickets there weren’t wholly conducive to meaningful nets, either. Pollock and Co., though, carried on in the clinically professional manner which took roots in the Bob Woolmer era.

At best, then, the lack of proper facilities outside the Gymkhana is an irritant. Even for Sourav and his team. The focus, simply, is on the semi-final.

South Africa hold a 4-3 advantage in 2000, but Pollock isn’t going too much by history.

At the best of times, it’s risky. While the South African captain did admit they were contemplating “a few ideas” to counter Sachin Tendulkar, he emphasised South Africa would look to neutralise all 11 Indians — not just Sachin who is due a big innings.

Sourav, for his part, pointed out that while South Africa were impressive in ousting England, “Nasser Hussain’s side played poorly...” But he saluted South Africa as being a solid outfit “with depth in batting.” That, of course, is thanks to the plethora of allrounders.

The success of Zaheer Khan notwithstanding, Pollock felt India were “missing” Jawagal Srinath. May be, this one observation could just provoke senior pro Venkatesh Prasad, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer into going for that extra yard. In any case Agarkar, in particular, has to quickly get his act right. He needs to be told there’s no room for error — certainly not against the big teams.

A slightly different message needs to be conveyed to vice-captain Rahul Dravid, who was a picture of typically intense concentration (at the Ruaraka) as he applied linseed oil to every single willow in his kit-bag.

One hopes the runs will now flow quicker.

Sunil Joshi is in the XII, but the Indians are expected to retain the XI which did duty last Saturday. And, Sourav will open with Sachin. Whether Sachin will be specifically assigned to go after either Pollock or first-change Allan Donald is something that will be “determined by the situation.”

What is clear, however, is that Sachin and Sourav won’t do an Alec Stewart-Marcus Trescothick repeat and allow Pollock and Roger Telemachus to pocket all the initial advantage. Playing the normal way — that the Pakistan-factor has been eliminated will help appreciably — is what should fetch the most handsome of dividends.

This applies to Sachin, veteran of 251 matches, as also Yuvraj Singh, who has played two games.

It’s imperative that India stay as positive as they were against Australia though, as Ravi Shastri opined, “a bit of tightening up” won’t do any harm. “The Australians, perhaps, were a bit over-confident. South Africa won’t be so,” Shastri told The Telegraph.

South Africa’s USP remains the allrounders, with Jacques Kallis again proving he has few peers. However, he’s not the only one India need to watch closely. Indications are South Africa will retain the XI which inflicted that eight-wicket thrashing on England.

With a needle-finish being projected, the difference may eventually have much to do with the fielding. Thankfully, the Yuvrajs have raised India’s stock in this department.

TEAMS

INDIA (likely): Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Vinod Kambli, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Singh, Vijay Dahiya, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan and Venkatesh Prasad.

SOUTH AFRICA (likely): Gary Kirsten, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Boeta Dippenaar, Jonty Rhodes, Lance Klusener, Mark Boucher, Nicky Boje, Shaun Pollock, Roger Telemachus, Allan Donald.

Umpires: Darrell Hair, Peter Willey.

Match Referee: Cammie Smith.    


 
 
POLLOCK & CO. STILL MISS HANSIE CRONJE 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Nairobi, Oct. 12: 
Shaun Pollock dedicated the first South African win after the Hansie Cronje scandal, over Australia at home, to the disgraced former captain. Now that Cronje has been handed a life ban by the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA), the present captain is hoping his predecessor will “move on with life.”

“The timing of the ban (imposed yesterday, 48 hours before the KnockOut semi-final against India) may not be perfect, but cricket will continue to be played... Yes, we miss Hansie and his guidance would have been specially helpful to the youngsters. At the same time, he had to face the consequences of everything he did,” Pollock observed, after a strenuous workout this morning.

Pollock added: “I hope the team will quickly put this (life ban decision) behind them and not get distracted in the build-up to tomorrow’s match...” Yet another reminder that irrespective of the unethical dealings entered into by Cronje, he still has a place in the heart of former teammates.

The one question, though, is why did the UCBSA wait for six months to slap this ban?

“Well, that’s because the Justice Edwin King Commission is still investigating and, frankly, the UCBSA was hesitant to act when the learned judge hadn’t completed his work. In fact, we phoned Justice King and took his permission before announcing the life ban,” explained Dr Ali Bacher, the UCBSA managing director.

Speaking to The Telegraph this afternoon,Dr Bacher, who is here for an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting, added: “The learned judge was quite happy with our decision and, really, the message has been conveyed that the UCBSA will be ruthless.” The UCBSA has already put in place a declaration (akin to taking an oath) which must be signed by every cricketer.

Asked why Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams, banned till January 1, were being allowed to play domestic cricket, Dr Bacher went somewhat on the backfoot: “Whatever the decision our disciplinary committee would have reached, it would have met with a divided response. The punishment was on the advice of the UCBSA’s lawyers, all three of whom are very distinguished.”

Dr Bacher pointed out the UCBSA would not pay the legal fees of either Gibbs or Williams. “I spoke to both the other day, and made it clear they would have to foot the bill themselves (collectively, Rands 40,000 or around $ 6,000).”

Incidentally, Dr Bacher confirmed he would step down as managing director in January to assume charge as chief executive of World Cup 2003, to be held in February-March of that year. To “get a better idea” of how mega events are staged, Dr Bacher was present at the Sydney Olympics. “My notes run into hundreds of pages,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, after initially declining comment on the Cronje life ban, ICC president Malcolm Gray told newsmen: “You know as much as I do... But, yes, this cleaning-up process is to be welcomed and we’ve got to win back the trust of the people.”

Sounds great, but Gray was himself party to the Shane Warne-Mark Waugh cover-up, by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB), not many seasons ago. He was then the ACB chairman.    


 
 
I HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO: ZAHEER KHAN 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Nairobi, Oct. 12: 
Father Bakhtiar is a photographer, while mother Zakiya a schoolteacher.

As for southpaw Zaheer Khan himself, he would only play tennis-ball cricket till a few years ago. Now, of course, he has made the world of cricket sit up and take notice.

It’s not only that Zaheer has taken five wickets in his first two appearances, it’s the manner in which he has got them. No wonder, captain Sourav Ganguly doesn’t tire of saying that Zaheer is the one both for the present and future.

Owing to the Board’s Code of Conduct, a formal interview wasn’t possible. However, The Telegraph obtained permission to ask “profile-specific” questions, which were ‘thrown’ at Zaheer last evening.

Following are excerpts

On his background

I’ve been brought up in Shrirampur (in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district) and took to serious cricket after class XII only. Actually, it’s Sudhir Naik, who runs the National Cricket Club in Mumbai, who advised me to be serious about the game. That was in 1996, when I’d gone to Mumbai for a holiday. I started playing for his club and got the big break when I was picked for the MRF Pace Foundation, in 1998-99.

On why he didn’t play for Mumbai or Maharashtra

Aunshu Sir (Aunshuman Gaekwad) saw me at the Foundation and suggested I move to Vadodara, where he is based. I did so last season and turned out for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy... The off-season finds me at the Foundation (Chennai), otherwise I shuttle between Vadodara and Mumbai, where I’ve got a job as an Indian Oil trainee. (Adds laughing) In fact, you could add Shrirampur, too, as I’m a second-year commerce student there.

On his inspiration

Dennis Lillee... I’d already read his Art of Fast Bowling before interacting with him one-to-one (at the Foundation)... It’s he who taught me to overcome hurdles, to mentally psyche myself up... Among contemporary bowlers, I admire Wasim Akram and Glenn McGrath — the former for his ability to swing the ball both ways; McGrath for his unbelievably consistent line and length.

On whether he could interact with either Akram or McGrath here

Not for any length of time.

On whether he was expecting to make the XIV for Nairobi

Having worked very hard for the past two years, yes... That I had fully recovered from a stress fracture (right shin region) gave me the confidence to deliver at the first opportunity. I’m clear about two things: Keep working hard and never give up.

On his thoughts when Sourav asked him to open the attack on debut (versus Kenya)

I didn’t expect it... Boosted my confidence even more. Also, quickly made me realise that the responsibility was enormous. Otherwise, my feelings weren’t different to the other occasions when I’ve marked my run-up for the first time in a match: Basically, that I should be quick, without compromising on line and length.

On how he assesses his own performance, in the two games so far

(Smiles) I have a long way to go... As I’ve said, I’m aware of my responsibility and look to carrying on with the way I’ve begun.

On his most satisfying wicket

That of Steve Waugh. Not only because of Waugh’s stature, but because that wicket came at a crucial moment... Perhaps, the turning point last Saturday... Incidentally, I turned 22 that day and couldn’t ever have asked for a more pleasing birthday gift. Us jeet se accha kya ho sakta tha?

On whether life will now change drastically

I think it’s natural there will be demands when one is doing well, but I shouldn’t be affected. I’ll continue to enjoy music and will remain close to the family (elder brother Zeeshan is a chemical engineer; younger one Anis is studying science).

Finally, whether the extensive workload at the international level will begin to weigh on his mind

I’m not worried... Discipline will be important and I’m not the sort to be casual about it.    


 
 
NZ TO WAIT TILL TOMORROW 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Nairobi, Oct. 12: 
The New Zealanders will wait till Saturday before deciding whether to call for a Chris Cairns replacement for the South Africa-leg of their African trip.

In any case, New Zealand aren’t having Cairns replaced for Sunday’s final. Cairns, bothered by a painful left knee, missed the semi-final against Pakistan.

“We’ll wait till Saturday... There’s a huge cloud over Chris’ fitness but we aren’t rushing into anything at the moment,” coach David Trist told The Telegraph today.

New Zealand head for South Africa from here (for three Tests and six one-day Internationals) and, even if Cairns isn’t in the squad, he may still go over to consult specialists there.

Dion Nash and Daniel Vettori have already been ruled out for the next couple of months. “It’s a disaster, really,” lamented Trist.    


 
 
VIJAY IN LEAD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
Vijay Kumar returned a stunning seven-under 65 to take the lead on the opening day of the Rs.6 lakh Tiger Sports Marketing Open, in Faridabad today, according to information received here.

S.S.P. Chaurasia was placed second at six-under 66, while, the third spot was shared by Vishal Singh, Basad Ali and Pappan, each with a score of 4-under 68.    


 
 
JR BOXING CAMP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 12: 
Sammy Lahiri, a Germany-based boxing coach, is imparting finer points to 17 boys and nine girls at a ‘micro camp’ at the Deshapran Sashmal Park (Rashbehari Gurdwara Park). The camp, being hosted by the South Calcutta Physical Culture Association, will run till October 19 and is in preparation for the junior nationals in Chennai in February.    

 
 
THUNDER STRUCK FOR MAIN EVENT 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
 
The Magansingh Jodha-trained Thunder Struck is taken to win the A. Campbell Trophy in Pune on Friday. P. Belose partners the four-year-old gelding.

SELECTIONS

2.45 pm: Essesspemess 1. Sadajyoti 2.

3.15 pm: National Velvet 1. Sarena Pride 2. Royal Secret 3.

3.45 pm: Storm Dancer 1. Sunny Sez 2. Legendary Lover 3.

4.15 pm: Silver Rock 1. Natural Spark 2. Desert Fighter 3.

4.45 pm: Thunder Struck 1. Reap The Bounty 2. Sacred Mission 3.

5.15 pm: Minneapolis 1. Numero Uno 2. Flirtatious 3.

5.45 pm: Kai Kumait 1. Adam’s Touch 2. Quiet Fancy 3.

Day’s Best: National Velvet

Double: Essesspemess & Silver Rock.    


 
 
MYSORE RESULTS 
 
 
BY TITAN BOY
 
 
Ridden by Gopal Rao, the Mahinder Singh-trainee Skipping Away lifted the Royal Calcutta Turf Club Cup in Mysore on Thursday.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Raichur Plate 1,400m: (12-6-7) Lightning Reef (Mansoor) 1; Formal Gold 2; Golden Days 3. Not run: Cosmic Creation (9) & Eye Opener (11). Won by: 1/2; 2-1/4; (1-32.9). Tote: Win Rs 614; Place: 104; 73; 19; Quinella: 5,474; Tanala: 41,560 (C.o). Fav: Clipper Royale (4).

2. Dupont Plate 1,600m: (7-5-3) Kylin (Rajesh) 1; Dynamic Gamble 2; Great Aswaraaj 3. Won by: 1/2; Dist; (1-45.4). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 17; 18; 24; Quinella: 54; Tanala: 769. Fav: Dynamic Gamble (5).

3. Badami Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (2-6-9) Acceptor (Marshall) 1; Splendid View 2; Flinders 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 7-3/4; (1-30.6). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 18; 13; 23; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 450. Fav: Splendid View (6).

4. H. H. Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Trophy, Div-II 1,400m: (2-1-9) Compliance (Ruzaan) 1; Splendid Chance 2; Fly Past 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 4-1/2; (1-31.3). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 10; 14; 65; Quinella: 17; Tanala: 247. Fav: Compliance (2).

5. H. H. Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Trophy, Div-I 1,400m: (5-9-11) Royal Steps (I. Chisty) 1; Alassio 2; Abyssinian Cat 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 3; (1-30.7). Tote: Win Rs 159; Place: 37; 19; 26; Quinella: 982; Tanala: 16,529. Fav: Soviet Bay (3).

6. Badami Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (4-7-11) Belief (Marshall) 1; Dancer’s Dream 2; Furia Rossa 3. Won by: SH; 3-1/2; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 14; 17; 23; Quinella: 70; Tanala: 529. Fav: Belief (4).

7. Royal Calcutta Turf Club Cup 1,200m: (11-2-6) Skipping Away (Gopal R.) 1; Rosalie 2; Like A Princess 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 5-3/4; (1-16.1). Tote: Win Rs 93; Place: 29; 32; 38; Quinella: 410; Tanala: 9,925. Fav: Surge Of Power (5).

8. Belgaum Plate 1,400m:(5-7-3) Butter Sponge (Rajesh S.) 1; Calculus 2; Tequila Ride 3. Won by: Dist; 7; (1-28.7). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 15; 22; 47; Quinella: 143; Tanala: 2,050. Fav: Sea Horse (4).

Jackpot: Rs 9,661; (C) Rs 1,705.

Treble: (i) Rs 171; (ii) Rs 2,736.    

 

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