Indians let slip early advantage
Sachin: Vote a morale-booster
Skipper Ganguly defends playing four bowlers
Bengal to field 3 rookies
9 clubs in breakaway move
Zimbabwe far better than records suggest: Rackeman
Nanda wins
Mumbai Races/ Endorsement fancied
Bangalore Races/ ‘Symphony’ strikes

 
 
INDIANS LET SLIP EARLY ADVANTAGE 
 
 
FROM NOVY KAPADIA
 
New Delhi, Nov. 18: 
Honours were even at stumps on the opening day of the India versus Zimbabwe Test on a benign Kotla wicket.

Down in the dumps at 155 for five, Zimbabwe rallied to comparative safety at close of play in the first of the two Pepsi Tests. Andy Flower, who averages 44.20 in Tests, and skipper Heath Streak put on an unbroken 77 runs for the sixth wicket and took the initiative away from India’s pedestrian attack.

Skipper Sourav Ganguly, who thought it was a bad toss to lose, feels India can apply the pressure if they can restrict Zimbabwe to under 300 with the new ball to be taken early tomorrow morning.

Just before and after tea, Zimbabwe lost three wickets, including the well-set Alistair Campbell, for just 20 runs. At that stage, Zimbabwe had slumped to 155 for five. But as so often, in the past the Indian bowling lacked the bite and variety to go for the killer punch.

Sourav admitted one more wicket at that stage and Zimbabwe would have been down on the mat. But it was not to be.

Murali Karthik and Sunil Joshi bowled a steady line and length but lacked the variety to trouble the determined Streak and Andy. Former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh, now a TV commentator, felt that both spinners were afraid to flight the ball and thus lacked penetration.

Sourav effected the changes positively, made Joshi switch ends, used Jawagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar in short bursts and the guile of Sachin Tendulkar but to no avail.

India’s ultra defensive approach, of playing with just four specialist bowlers in this Test, got exposed in the session after tea. They opted for V. V. S. Laxman and so 20-year-old Punjab off-spinner Sarandeep Singh missed out on his maiden Test cap. Sourav got his way and India fielded six specialist batsmen and four bowlers.

India thus made two changes from the team that beat Bangladesh by nine wickets in Dhaka, earlier this week. Wicket-keeper Vijay Dahiya replaced Syed Saba Karim and Laxman came in for Zaheer Khan. This was contrary to the selectors’ way of thinking and the Dhaka balance of five batsmen and five bowlers got disturbed.

Though Sachin, with his mixture of slow and fast off-breaks, snared a tentative Stuart Carlisle to his doom, the spinners did not make the Zimbabwe batsmen sweat and fret for every run.

Srinath was India’s bowling hero. In the morning session, he clipped Grant Flower’s off bail with a ball that moved late. Later, a sharp inswinger saw left-handed Gavin Rennie edge to a gleeful Dahiya.

Srinath bowled four successive maidens and had an impressive first spell of 7-4-15-2. Agarkar also worked up a good pace and was unluicky not to claim Rennie, Sadagopan Ramesh flooring a waist high snick at third slip.

Agarkar also troubled both Stuart Carlisle and Campbell during their 120-run third-wicket stand. He was unlucky not to find the edge despite beating both batsmen on several occasions.

Campbell with a solid 70, including nine fours and a six over mid-on off Joshi, and Andy (55 batting) were Zimbabwe’s best batsmen. Campbell, who has 12 half centuries in 45 Tests, used his feet to attack the spinners.

Andy, the epitome of patience and confidence, nudged the ball to vacant gaps for singles while not sparing any loose delivery.

He has seven fours and a six over mid-wicket off Joshi and has oocupied the crease for 140 minutes. The fate of this match now hinges on how Streak and Andy tackle the new ball tomorrow morning.    


 
 
SACHIN: VOTE A MORALE-BOOSTER 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
New Delhi, Nov. 18: 
It’s an indication of just how focussed Sachin Tendulkar is, in the lead-up to a big match, that he gave today’s newspapers only a cursory glance.

In doing so, Sachin missed the bit about his having been voted the Best Batsman by Australia’s first-class cricketers. That he had been adjudged No.1 was actually conveyed to him by The Telegraph this evening.

“Is that so?” was Sachin’s initial response, when contacted at the Taj Palace at the end of Day-I of the Zimbabwe Test. Almost immediately, of course, Sachin sought details of the vote. Very enthusiastically, one may add.

According to a poll by The Australian, involving 145 cricketers, an overwhelming 68 per cent voted for Sachin, way ahead of Steve Waugh (27) and Brian Lara (a mere three per cent).

Incidentally, Glenn McGrath beat Shane Warne to the top slot, among bowlers, with Curtley Ambrose finishing third.

“It does feel good... Very good, in fact. It’s always nice to be appreciated, more so when the appreciation comes from within the fraternity... I’m really pleased,” Sachin said, speaking exclusively.

He added: “Yes, that the poll was conducted in Australia, where cricket is played hardest and where the also-rans don’t even get noticed, does make this even more special.”

Thus far, it’s been an ordinary year for Sachin (213 runs at an average of 30.43 in Tests; 1,041 runs at an average of 35.90 in one-dayers) and, so, will this accolade from Bradman’s home turf encourage him to end 2000 with a bang?

Sachin laughed while answering: “It definitely is a morale-booster. No doubt about that... However, it’s not that I’ve ever been either short on motivation or enthusiasm. It’s just that, sometimes, things don’t click... Despite being focussed, one ends up with little to show.”

He added: “I’ve always played the way I’ve been taught to — being positive... I may not have got many runs, this year, but my approach hasn’t been any different. No, I won’t be under additional pressure and, obviously, won’t change my game.”

It’s quite likely that Sachin who, overall, averages 55-plus in 11 years of Test cricket (41-plus in 258 one-dayers), will celebrate by taking the Heath Streaks to the cleaners.    


 
 
SKIPPER GANGULY DEFENDS PLAYING FOUR BOWLERS 
 
 
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Nov. 18: 
Sourav Ganguly today defended his decision to play only four specialist bowlers in the opening Test against Zimbabwe.

“It was a team decision to play four bowlers,” he said, justifying the act by stating that V.V.S. Laxman was included to strengthen the batting.

Sourav admitted “it was a bad toss to lose” as the Kotla wicket was placid and good to bat on. Considering the nature of the wicket, he felt his bowlers had done a good job in restricting Zimbabwe to 232 for five at stumps.

“Jawagal Srinath as expected bowled splendidly (three for 39 off 16 overs). Agarkar also bowled well and troubled the batsmen but was unlucky not to get a wicket,” he felt. He felt the spinners, Scould have bowled better, lacked variety and did not flight the ball enough.    


 
 
BENGAL TO FIELD 3 ROOKIES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
For Devang Gandhi and Sourav Dasgupta, respective skippers of Bengal and Tripura, the goal ahead of tomorrow’s opening match in the East Zone Ranji Trophy league at Eden Gardens is clear and well-defined: Putting their best foot forward to the occasion.

But their way of getting down to it is quite contrasting, if not conflicting.

For Devang, the match serves a perfect platform to kick off the season on a winning note. His Tripura counterpart, however, is candid enough to say that they are intent more on projecting themselves as a good side to reckon with than frustrating their fancied rivals from scripting the predictable — an outright win.

With the status of their opponents being viewed as underdogs at best and minnows at worst, Bengal are all set to subject themselves to a number of experimentations.

Three players — Arijit Bose, Shib Shankar Pal and Sujoy Parui — are set to make their debut on the home turf tomorrow. While Arijit, son of former Bengal captain Gopal Bose, will open the innings with Amitava Banerjee, Sujoy and Shib Shankar will lend support to Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

Leg-spinner Wrichik Mazumder and veteran Utpal Chatterjee will be the two spinners.

“We have a new look team, consisting of some young promising players. But they need to perform at the right time and at the right place,” Devang said today, adding the three debutants have been picked on merit.

He, however, insisted on giving the youngsters adequate time to shape up. “They should follow in the footsteps of Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. He is an exception, but still, performance is the key factor,” Devang said.

“I hope the wicket, being lively, will assist these young bowlers,” the Bengal captain said. He also hinted at fielding first on winning the toss.

Interestingly, the Bengal think-tank is yet to decide on who will wear the big gloves. It is a direct toss-up between Syed Saba Karim and Deep Dasgupta.

According to sources, Deep may make the final cut with Saba playing as a specialist batsman. If both take to the field, a bowler, probably Wrichik, will have to sit out.

For Tripura, all such ifs and buts in selecting the Bengal team hardly matter. “We have nothing to lose in the match and hence, we will start absolutely free of tension,” Sourav said. He, however, made it clear that the playing eleven will be packed with batsmen — an indication that they will play for a draw.

TEAMS

BENGAL (from): Devang Gandhi (capt.), Rohan Gavaskar, Srikant Kalyani, Syed Saba Karim (wk), Utpal Chatterjee, Deep Dasgupta (wk), Sanjib Sanyal, Sujoy Parui, Shib Shankar Pal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Amitabha Banerjee, Arijit Bose, Wrichik Mazumder, Pitamber Dutta.

TRIPURA: Sourav Dasgupta (capt.), Pronab Debnath, Rajib Dev Burman, Chetan Sachdev, Mridul Gupta, Rajib Dutta (wk), Sujoy Roy, Subal Chowdhury, Sanjoy Bose, Rajinder Singh Rawat, Indrajit Ghosh, Vijay Prajapati, Aditya Shukla, Gourprada Banik.    


 
 
9 CLUBS IN BREAKAWAY MOVE 
 
 
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Nov. 18: 
Nine prominent clubs of India formed the Indian Premier Football Association (IPFA) today. The breakaway clubs are East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting, Tollygunge Agragami Mahindra United, Salgaocar, F.C. Kochin, JCT and Churchill Brothers.

The executive committee of the IPFA is headed by Vijay Mallya as its president. Mohun Bagan’s Anjan Mitra is one of the three vice-presidents along with Alan Durante of Mahindra United and Henry Britto of Salgaocar. Babu Mather of F.C. Kochin is the secretary.

The IPFA has set a deadline for the AIFF to conduct football events dynamically and provide a proper calender of events. Other demands include greater electronic media coverage and international participation and proper norms as regards ownership and transfer of players. The sole objective of the IPFA is to promote football in a professional manner in the country and not to be regarded as rebel or parallel organisation.

Mallya will meet AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi in the capital tomorrow and seek an assurance about these demands. The main demand of the IPFA is that the AIFF must either respond urgently to the demands or postpone the start of the National League till an agreement is reached, failing which the top nine clubs will not participate.    


 
 
ZIMBABWE FAR BETTER THAN RECORDS SUGGEST: RACKEMAN 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
New Delhi, Nov.18: 
Sixteen years ago, Carl Rackemann made quite an impression (four for 41) in the day-night ODI against India, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Now, as Zimbabwe’s coach, the 40-year-old one-time quick is seeking to leave a different kind of impression. It’s a tough ask but Rackemann, whose last Australia appearance was in 1990-91, is game for the challenge.

Rackemann, whose innings as coach began in Nairobi last month, spoke to The Telegraph last evening, at the Taj Palace.

Following are excerpts

On his credentials as coach

Limited, really... However, ever since I quit first-class cricket (1995-96), I’ve coached in bits and pieces. In fact, back in 1997 itself, I was supposed to work with the Zimbabwean bowlers but, somehow, that didn’t materialise. Last year, when Australia toured Zimbabwe, and I happened to be there, I was asked whether I could take charge full-time. Of course, I then said I wouldn’t be available all 12 months.

On what made him change his mind

That I could rearrange my commitments back in Australia helped, in a big way... Before taking charge full-time, I went with the team to the West Indies and to England, in the second-half of the tour... My contract is till next August, with an extension-option.

On whether the disturbed situation, in Zimbabwe, encouraged second thoughts before he finally said ‘yes’

Well, I’ve been with the team while problems have taken place and, so, have some understanding of what’s going on... Some of the players are in the thick of issues being debated back in Zimbabwe but, then, anything that’s political is out of our hands. As coach, I’m neither concerned with history nor politics. For me, what’s important is today and tomorrow. This Test, the rest of the series...

On having to do without Neil Johnson and Murray Goodwin, both of whom have left Zimbabwe for good

Both were an asset, yes... Their departure, though, has meant opportunities for two other players. That’s the positive side. (Adds smiling) As I’ve said, look to the today and tomorrow.

On how he sees a coach’s role

(Laughs) Good question... Basically, he’s got to ensure the players play to potential. If that’s not the case, he’s got to find out the reason... It could be skill-related, or may have something to do with man-management. I don’t, however, think there’s a formula specific to a successful coach. It’s not like buying a TV and, accompanying that, is an instruction manual which lists how the set will function. With coaching, it’s different. All coaches have the same goal, but all don’t get there the same way.

On the actual coaching at the Test/ODI level

Different players need different things... More often than not, even a seasoned bowler or a batsman going through a rough patch simply don’t realise a fundamental mistake is being committed. It’s here that a coach steps in. It’s amazing how a basic error can go unnoticed.

On whether he has been influenced by any one coach

When I started my career, in the early Eighties, Australia didn’t have a national coach... Later, Bobby Simpson came into the picture and gave priority to fielding. He did spend quite a bit of time with the batsmen, not so much with the bowlers... No, I wouldn’t say any one cricket coach influenced me in a big way. But, yes, there’s an Australian Rules Football coach — Kevin Sheedy of Melbourne’s Essendon Club — who has left a significant impression. He’s been around for 16 years or so, and the club has kept faith even when it hasn’t been winning. For me, that’s been an eye-opener. Such faith is unusual, in football certainly.

On interacting with Sheedy

He came across as a fierce competitor and one who is very determined.

On why few Boards appoint a one-time specialist bowler as coach

(Laughs again) You’ll have to ask the employers... Generally, as bowlers don’t make good batsmen, it’s probably felt they won’t be equipped to handle the batting side of coaching... Personally, I don’t agree. After all, bowlers make a living out of exploiting the weaknesses of batsmen. They do know what batting is all about.

On whether a coach from overseas starts with the advantage of not having any prejudice

It’s mixed, really... First and foremost, the coach must understand how the system works. Once that’s done, other things should fall into place. But yes, I accept a coach will probably be better off if, for instance, he knew how a particular player played five-seven years ago. Equally, being free of prejudice is essential, too.

On Zimbabwe’s USP

Perhaps, that our opponents can always underestimate us. We obviously don’t lack potential, or else wouldn’t have just missed out on so many occasions. Zimbabwe, believe me, is a far better team than the records suggest.

On whether he would be comfortable having the services of either a psychologist or a pro motivator

That’s been suggested and its crossed my mind as well. I see no harm... The decision, however, has to be made by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. If I may add, what could make a difference is approaching a situation differently... Of being positive. The better players invariably make the most of their natural talent.

Finally, his advice to aspiring quicks

Bowl fast, not just line-and-length. The game has any mumber of line-and-length medium pacers, but very few genuine quicks. Very few dynamic bowlers... The one quick I looked up to was Jeff Thomson. Don’t think anybody has ever bowled quicker. Thankfully, today, we have a better understanding of the bio-mechanics of bowling action and so injuries can be avoided.    


 
 
NANDA WINS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
Displaying great application and playing well below their handicaps, Arun Nanda emerged winner in the inaugural Astor Cup Saturday. He notched up 42 points. Sanjay Sanwal and Sanjay Agarwal came second and third.

Vandana Agarwal won the coveted best scratch prize when she returned an even par round for 36 points narrowly edging out Aditya Khaitan in the open event. Anu Bindra claimed the best ladies prize.    


 
 
MUMBAI RACES/ ENDORSEMENT FANCIED 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Mumbai, Nov. 18: 
The S. Sunderji-trained Endorsemen is expected to lift the 1,400m Maharaja Of Morvi Trophy, the main event at the Mumbai races on Sunday. M. Gallagher partners the Placerville-Princess Clemente filly.

SELECTIONS

1.30 pm: Tapanzee 1. Dalsinghar 2. Millennium Money 3.

2 pm: Bon Apetit 1. Rock Sword 2. Boundless Thrill 3.

2.30 pm: Endorsement 1. Lady Moura 2. Ally BcBeal 3.

3 pm:The Proletarian 1. Sicalade 2. Zeisha 3.

3.30 pm: Royal Engagement 1. Silver Blue 2. Shanillo 3.

4 pm: Stavros 1. Cymbidium 2. Silent Fox 3.

4.30 pm: That’s Momentum 1. Silverita 2. Afro 3.

5 pm: Gulmohor 1. Shirley Valentine 2. Millenium Star 3.

Day’s Best: Stavros

Double: Gulmohor & Royal Engagement    


 
 
BANGALORE RACES/ ‘SYMPHONY’ STRIKES 
 
 
BY TITAN BOY
 
Bangalore, Nov. 18: 
Ridden by Appu the Darashah-trained Symphony Of Fire lifted the Hyderabad Silver Vase in Bangalore on Saturday.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Bhadravathi Plate 1,200m: (2-5-8) Golden Collection (Shareef) 1; Speedy Idea 2; Bacardi Star 3. Won by: 9; 1/2; (1-17.1). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 12; 17; 16; Quinella: 52; Tanala: 187. Fav: Golden Collection (2).

2. Sangam Cup 1,100m: (8-6-10) Purple Princess (Prakash) 1; Crystal Ocean 2; Black Ocean 3. Won by: 3; SH; (1-11-6). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 16; 19; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 130. Fav: Purple Princess (8).

3. N. Wood Memorial Plate 1,400m: (7-3-1) Desert Gold (Prithviraj) 1; Augill Castle 2; Strides Of Fire 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 1/2; (1-27.8). Tote: Win Rs 228; Place: 20; 33; 14; Quinella: 679; Tanala: 4,626. Fav: Far excellence (2).

4. Kehlan Stud Plate 1,600m: (6-2-8) Royal Steps (I. Chisty) 1; Hello Brother 2; Assertive Allies 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3/4; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 335; Place: 47; 12; 16; Quinella: 308; Tanala: 5,742. Fav: Hello Brother (2).

5. Hyderabad Silver Vase 1,200m: (2-5-1) Symphony Of Fire (Appu) 1; Silver Patriarch 2;Acute 3. Won by: 6; 4-1/4; (1-13.7). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 12; 16; Quinella: 19; Tanala: 131. Fav: Symphony Of Fire (2).

6. Cordon Bleu Plate 1,400m: (9-3-6) Chippo (Ramesh) 1; Royal Caribbean 2; Top Socialite 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 2-1/4; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 437; Place: 50; 38; 67; Quinella: 945; Tanala: 73,939. Fav: Furia Rossa (4).

7. Own Opinion Plate 1,200m: (8-10-6) Empress Of India (Warren) 1; Scandal Sheet 2; Cormac 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 2; (1-17.2).Tote: Win Rs 69; Place: 27; 30; 27; Quinella: 325; Tanala: 7,152. Fav: Ratn (3). (Note: The winner survived objection lodged by the rider of fourth placed horse).

Jackpot: Rs 2,03,880 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 15,053; (ii) Rs 3,075.    

 

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