Andy Flower thwarts Indian sweep
Haldipur recalled, Saba stays out
Nikhil Chopra to be kept out of ODIs
‘CBI wrongly informed’
Sourav heaps praise on Andy
Millennium Cup draws top names
Mumbai Races/ Running Star may be hard to toss
Calcutta Races/ Seven for Friday’s Hilliard Cup
Calcutta Races/ Track trials
Calcutta Races/ Altimara, a force in future classics

 
 
ANDY FLOWER THWARTS INDIAN SWEEP 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Nagpur, Nov. 29: 
INDIA 609/6 dec.
ZIMBABWE 382, 503/6
MoM & MoS: Andy Flower

There could have been better examples for thriving under pressure situations but not as effective as the one Andy Flower exhibited at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground today. Battling it out for 544 minutes with unfailing determination, he guaranteed Zimbabwe save the ignominy of a 0-2 series loss.

The career-best unbeaten 232 (444 balls, 30x4, 2x6) was an innings of rare character and fortitude. It was also the highest by a wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket. He may have missed out on the chance to overtake Dave Houghton’s 266, the highest score by a Zimbabwean, but he doesn’t rue losing the opportunity. That his Herculean effort has earned his team a draw has been his biggest achievement and will certainly put the visitors in good stead ahead of the one-day series.

The Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards were a reward for his superb fitness and concentration. He has been on the ground, whether it be keeping wickets or batting, for nearly the whole of two Tests, but not for a moment was he found wanting in application.

In all, he aggregated 540 runs in the Tests, including two unbeaten knocks.

There was very little the Indians could do about Andy. He was middling the ball with poise and perfection. At times, it seemed he could bat for another day in similar fashion.

Zimbabwe’s chances hinged on Alistair Campbell and Andy, and although the former left early after his maiden hundred, the latter blunted whatever the Indians had on offer. There were no rash strokes, only an effort to frustrate the attack with judicious placements on both sides of the wicket.

Rarely did he step out to the spinners today, relying on the traditional and reverse sweep to throw their line into disarray.

“That’s very effective under the circumstances. But I used the sweep only in the later stages today since I was trying to be disciplined,” Andy said.

It was always known that Andy was going to bottle up one end but the way Dirk Viljoen carried on the good work during the 113-run sixth wicket stand smashed all hopes of a result. Viljoen has played some useful knocks in one-dayers but today he proved he is equally adept in the longer version of the game.

Viljoen braved a hostile spell from Zaheer Khan after lunch, suffering blows on his body and helmet. The constant rotation of bowlers never came of any help as he seemed unperturbed.

The Indians will always regret Shiv Sundar Das failing to get his hands to a snick even before Viljoen had scored and Heath Streak surviving a bat and pad chance off Sunil Joshi.

Campbell could only curse himself as he pulled a ball from outside the off stump into the hands of square leg. But the 209-run fourth wicket stand had instilled a sense of belief and confidence in their ranks that made the job of the later order batsmen easier. It convinced them that there was no devil in the wicket and only a certain amount of application was all that was needed.

The slowness in the wicket made the bounce negligible and provided ample time for the batsmen to adjust. It is time the BCCI pitches committee looked into preparing lively pitches which provide results while, at the same time, offering some entertainment to the spectators. A dull and drab encounter will only add to the waning interest. For the record, the match was called off after the fifth mandatory overs.

“There are no marks except the bowlers’ footmarks. Another five-day Test match is possible on this same surface,” said a visibly annoyed Sourav Ganguly.

To search a silver lining for the hosts may be too harsh under the circumstances. But Shiv Sundar Das and Sarandeep Singh did impress in their own ways. But as Sourav said the other day, Das’ biggest test will be overseas.

As the performance of the spinners still worries the Indian skipper and John Wright (“The challenge will be to match the bowling and fielding with our batting,” the coach said), Vijay Dahiya has hardly been able to prove his mettle. The wicketkeeper struggled against the turning ball which, at times, left the skipper irritated in the slips.

Time for the selectors to look for youngsters in this department too.    


 
 
HALDIPUR RECALLED, SABA STAYS OUT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 29: 
Nikhil Haldipur has been called back to the Bengal squad for the Wills Trophy qualifying one-dayers beginning here on Sunday. The left-handed opener was not considered for the Ranji Trophy ties against Tripura and Assam.

Syed Saba Karim opted out, saying he is not interested in the shorter version. Off-spinner Pradipta Majumdar finds a berth along with wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta and opener Alokendu Lahiri.

THE SQUAD: Devang Gandhi (captain), Amitava Banerjee, Nikhil Haldipur, Deep Dasgupta, Arijit Bose, Alokendu Lahiri, Rohan Gavaskar, Srikant Kalyani, Utpal Chatterjee, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Wrichik Mazumder, Shib Shankar Pal, Sanjib Sanyal, Pradipta Majumdar.

Bengal 83/3

Bengal reached 83 for three at stumps on Day II of the three-day zonal under-22 match against Assam in Krishnanagar today. According information received here, Assam were all out for 289 with Rajkumar Mrityunjoy Gohain scoring 112. Shiv Sagar Singh took four for 49.

BRIEF SCORES: Assam 289 (Rajkumar Mrityunjoy Gohain 112; Shiv Sagar Singh 4/49, Ranadeb Bose 3/68, Dharmendra Singh 2/64). Bengal 83/3 (Tirtha Roy 45).

Suburban win

Suburban beat Customs by five wickets as the CAB senior division league got underway today. Batting first, Customs were all out for just 121 which enabled Suburban to end the two-day match on the opening day itself.

SUMMARISED SCORES

Customs 121 (P. Ganguly 45; Pradip Niyogi 5/44, Samit Ghosh 3/42). Suburban 125/5 (S. Paul 35; C.P. Verma 2/35). Suburban won by 5 wkts.

Shibpur Institute 149/4 (Kinshuk Das 59, Samir Majhi 38) vs Young Bengal

Mohunlal 163 (Mainak Dutta 42; Arun Agarwal 4/12). Kalighat 110/2 (Safi Ahmed 41 n.o.).

Shyambazar 311 (Vikram Jaiswal 71, Ramesh Biswas 41; Jayanta Ghosh Dastidar 3/44) vs Tollygunge Agragami.

Burnpur United 438/7 (Sumanta Deb Maity 180, Sanjay Dube 105). Sporting Union 117/4 (Ratan Das 3/82).

Milan Samity 268 (Debabrata Banik 48; Debashish Mukherjee 4/71) vs Netaji Subhas Institute    


 
 
NIKHIL CHOPRA TO BE KEPT OUT OF ODIS 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Nov. 29: 
It’s official: Nikhil Chopra, recalled for the first three one-dayers against Zimbabwe, won’t be fielded in any of the games.

The first will be staged in Cuttack, on Saturday.

Well-placed sources, confirming a report in The Telegraph today, revealed Board president A.C.Muthiah had “advised” chief selector Chandu Borde to keep the off-spinner out of the XI.

This unusual scenario has occurred as, apparently, the Board president’s consent (which, though mandatory, is often a formality) wasn’t taken before secretary Jaywant Lele announced the squad, in Nagpur on Sunday.

Chopra was one of the cricketers raided while the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry was underway and, during his deposition, was evasive on the issue of making and receiving calls from bookies.

The CBI didn’t indict Chopra, who made his India debut in late 1998 (coming in as replacement for Harbhajan Singh, whose action was then suspect), but didn’t give a clean-chit either.

For largely this reason (and on grounds of performance, too), Chopra didn’t even figure among the probables shortlisted just ahead of the formal start to the 2000-2001 season.

Obviously, a huge communication gap has added to the many embarrassing chapters in the Board’s history.

Replacing Chopra straightaway will cause even more embarrassment, but that’s being terribly unfair on captain Sourav Ganguly: His options will be limited to 13 players, not 14.

Ironically, Sourav himself asked for Chopra, and he just about made it, edging past Aashish Kapoor, who has been in the dumps for quite some time.

At least one selector did ask Lele, the selection meeting-convenor, whether “all was clear” on the Chopra front, and the reply was “yes.”

Nothing mala-fide, but this slip-up won’t be forgotten in a hurry.    


 
 
‘CBI WRONGLY INFORMED’ 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 29: 
The CBI report on match-fixing and betting may have forced the cricket board on the backfoot but the BCCI is not taking it all lying down.

Following its special general body meeting here today, BCCI president A.C. Muthiah said the CBI observations on the board’s functioning is based on “wrong information” and cited a few examples.

He said board members were disappointed at the CBI remarks and they will make public the anomalies and errors in the CBI report regarding its activities. Members of Parliament will also be informed about the discrepancies, he said.

Muthiah cited an example: The CBI report says the BCCI received Rs 1.5 crore as guarantee money from the 1999 World Cup in England. According to Muthiah, the BCCI actually got Rs 10.75 crore.

The BCCI chief didn’t accuse the CBI of being motivated but insisted that the investigative agency’s observations can’t be correct since there are so many factual errors. He also presenetd a booklet, highlighting the errors in the CBI report.

The booklet refuted the CBI claim that India is the only country which tours Sharjah, Toronto and Singapore even at the cost of not touring the regular Test-playing nations.

The BCCI booklet said: “India has never sacrificed any reciprocal tour with any Test-playing nation or has played in non-regular venues such as Singapore and Toronto at the peak of cricket seasons.”

The BCCI booklet also refutes the CBI claim that the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) members include ten employees of the Rungta group. “There are only three employees of the Rungta group who are members of the Rajasthan Cricket Association,” it quotes the RCA as saying.

Describing the CBI observations as “more like a moral story in nature, devoid of substance,” the booklet said the board did not deserve to be treated like this.

In fact, there is a mild counterattack towrads the end of it where it calls the observations uncharitable and dubs it as “not cricket”.    


 
 
SOURAV HEAPS PRAISE ON ANDY 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Nagpur, Nov. 29: 
In the end it was Andy Flower’s unbeaten 232 that proved to be the talking point of the second Test match. An innings of rare application and character that helped his team earn a draw after being forced to follow-on.

It has helped him establish himself among the world’s top left-handers, said his skipper Heath Streak. “His record speaks for itself. He’s worked really hard and taken a lot of pressure playing for Zimbabwe. Today he countered everything with a lot of perfection.”

“We just couldn’t get him out. The Zimbabweans batted around him. He was the man who held the innings together,” Sourav Ganguly conceded. “I haven’t seen anybody bat so well on Indian tracks during my five years in international cricket. He was simply amazing.”

Andy was his usual self, cool and composed. “It was a satisfying knock. There have been times when we couldn’t avoid a defeat after having to follow-on. But this knock helped us get into a position from where we could save the Test.”

Andy does not want to rate this innings as his best. “The 156 I got against Pakistan in Harare is still the best since it was tough to bat on that wicket. I still think the conditions were a lot easier here.”

Streak feels he hasn’t seen anyone bat so well against spin. “He combines his fitness with mental toughness,” he said.

“Andy’s skill and physical fortitude were a great example for us,” remarked coach John Wright.

Andy says he has worked hard on his fitness to get to this level. “I’m not a natural athlete like some other guys in the squad. So it’s been hard work. My brother (Grant) and I play lot of tennis and squash and spend hours in the gym improving the fitness.”

But what about his concentration? “There’s no real secret about it. Just being there in the middle helps me practise that aspect,” he says with a grin.

And the ability to thrive in pressure situations? “I’ve my own methods of tackling pressure. I wish to keep them to myself and can only say that I never allow tension to play upon me.”

Satisfied with his batting he now wants to concentrate more on his wicketkeeping. “I’ve improved a lot. But there’s always further scope,” he said.    


 
 
MILLENNIUM CUP DRAWS TOP NAMES 
 
 
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Nov. 29: 
AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi today said the Millenium Super Soccer Cup, from January 10 to 25, will be the biggest international tournament in Asia. He said 16 countries from different continents will take part. The venues for the group-league matches and the quarter finals are Kochin, Goa and Calcutta. The semi-finals are on January 22 and 23 and the final and the third-place match on January 25. All four matches are at the Salt Lake Stadium in Calcutta.

The draw for the event will be held in Delhi on any day from December 20 to 23. Groups A and B wil be played in Kochi, group C in Goa and Group D in Calcutta.

The AIFF president said stars like Dwight Yorke (Trinidad & Tobago), Faustino Asprilla and Freddy Rincon (Columbia), Ivan Zamarano and Marcelo Salas (Chile) will be seen in action.

It remains to be seen whether Manchester United releases Yorke as the Premier League will be in full swing then. The availability of other players also depends on the demands of their European clubs. Roger Milla, ambassador for football in Cameroon, is supposed to inaugurate the tournament.

Teams from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australasia, North and South Americas are expected to participate. The maximum entrants are from Asia, with Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq, Japan, Uzbekistan and India in fray. South America will have three (Chile, Uruguay and Columbia), while there will be two from Europe (Iceland and Yugoslavia). Africa will be represented by Olympic champions Cameroon.

New Zealand are the lone entrants from Down Under and Trinidad and Tobago from North America.

When questioned about the availability of the best Indian players in case the Indian Premier Football Association clubs boycott the meet, he was confident that the problem would be sorted out. The national camp starts on December 21 at either Patiala or Calcutta under Sukhwinder Singh, and the National League will be suspended from Dec. 20 onwards.

All teams are supposed to get undisclosed appearance money. The prize money at stake is $150,000 for the winners, $100,000 for the runners and $50,000 for the third-placed team. The Fair Play Award winners will get $25,000.

The AIFF president said TV rights had been sold to Doordarshan but the sum was not disclosed. He added that the matches will be shown either live or deferred on the national channel.    


 
 
MUMBAI RACES/ RUNNING STAR MAY BE HARD TO TOSS 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, Nov. 29: 
Rested during the Pune season, Running Star may be hard to down in the upper division of the Thunder Bird Plate at the Mumbai races on Thursday. Trained by Zadmal Singh, the highly rated Alnasr Alwash-eek-Promising colt will be partnered by C. Rajendra.

SELECTIONS

1 pm: Chelsea 1. Phalaenopsis 2. Ancestry 3.
1.30 pm: Wisdom To Rule 1. One Eyed Wonder 2. Court Lane 3.
2 pm: Terrestrial 1. Khim 2. Elegant Jade 3.
2.30 pm: Zillion Figlia 1. Blushing Brave 2. Lets Party 3.
3 pm: Authentic 1. Mischiefmaker 2. Hariasva 3.
3.30 pm: Running Star 1. Helianthus 2. Cryptonite 3.
4 pm: Oh So Quick 1. Teaser 2. Majesty Of Law 3.
4.30 pm: Fire Girl 1. Winning Girl 2. Royal Standard 3.
5 pm: Stone Ridge 1. Tamarinda 2. Count Dracula 3.

Day’s Best: Running Star

Double: Oh So Quick & Fire Girl
   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ SEVEN FOR FRIDAY’S HILLIARD CUP 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Nov. 29: 
There are seven in the running for the 1,400m Hilliard Cup, Friday’s chief attraction. First race starts at 1.20 pm.

ACCEPTANCES

1.Redbay Handicap 1,200m (Cl III; Rt. 44-72) 1.20 pm: Almond Rock 60; Aracruz 57; Storm Trooper 54.5; Alsheim 54.5; Bold Apparel 53.5; Scarlet Raider 53.5; Staffordshire 53.5.

2. Breeders’ Cup 1,100m (Terms, maiden 2-y-o only) 2.05 pm: Alamito 52; Sebastian 52; Andrada 50.5; Angeles 50.5; Ascoril 50.5.

3. Spook Handicap 1,200m (Cl V; Rt. 18 & below) 2.35 pm: Master Bold 60; Armila 56.5; Arizona Star 53.5; Fencai 53; Abstone Queen 51; Private Lives 49.5; Golden Heart 48; Atacada 48.

4. Manasseh Memorial Cup 1,600m (Cl II; Cl III eligible Rt. 44-94) 3.05 pm: Acrosto 60; Anolini 57; Double Bull 51.5; Aragrove 48.5; Classic Pursuit 48.

5. Hilliard Cup 1,400m (Terms, 4-y-o & over) 3.35 pm: So Royal 62; Artwork 60.5; Arendal 53; Starry Flag 53; Freedom Dancer 50; Allodium 49.5; Alyssum 47.5.

6. Good Hope Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV; Rt. 22-50) 4.10 pm: Tajik 60.5; Bul Bul 58; Pneumatic Power 55; Ghunghat 53.5; Ammeter 51; Blessed Spirit 51; Sky Hawk 51; Magnifico 51; Flying Power 50; Nearco Prince 47.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.
   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ TRACK TRIALS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Nov. 29: 
Princelene, Merano, Staffordshire and Tajik were impressive from among the following horses seen working today morning:

Outer sand track

2,000m: Soviet Port (Rabani) in 2-53s; (600m) 51s; (400m) in 34s.

1,400m: Royal Ruler (P. Alford) in 1-41s; (1,000m) 1-10s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. No Regrets (Gowli) in 1-51s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 32s. Easy.

1,200m: Princelene (Khalander) in 1-24s; (800m) 57s; (400m) 30s. Fit. Illustrious Reign (Upadhya) in 1-33s; (800m) 1-2s; (400m) 31s. Easy. Black Mane (Yacoob) in 1-29s; (800m) 55s; (400m) 29s. Good.

1,000m: Merano (Khalander) in 1-9s; (400m) 28s. Handy. Storm Trooper (Kujur) in 1-11s; (400m) 31s. Moved well. Soviet Song (Khalander) in 1-12s; (400m) 28s. Handy. Constantine (Yacoob) in 1-8s; (400m) 29s. Impressed. Tanganyika (Kujur) in 1-11s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Staffordshire (M. Reuben) in 1-9s; (400m) 28s. Good.

800m: Prince Obolensky (Rutherford) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Easy. American (Yacoob) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Quickdraw McGraw (Kujur) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Speedy. Tajik (Khalander) 53s; (400m) 27s. Moved fluently. Desert Force (Kujur) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Colonial (Khalander) in 1-3s; (400m) 31s. Kargil Soldier (Rb) and 2yo Broto/Wanderland (Connorton) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Former better. Country Cousin (K. Gurang) and Lovely Duchess (Salim) in 59s; (400m) 30s. Both level. Magnifico (C. Alford) in 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Silver Raising (M. Reuben) in 56s; (400m) 29s. Moved well. Pure Passion (Rutherford) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Handy. Starina (Salim) 55s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Flying Scot (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 31s. Tequila Shot (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Sky Hawk (Yacoob), Adaab (G. Singh) and Double Cross (Haroon) in 58s; (400m) 29s. First named good.

600m: Baffin Bay (Rb) in 43s; (400m) 28s. Eau Savage (Shanker) in 42s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

1,400m: Falconaire (Rb) in 1-46s; (1,000m) 1-16s; (400m) 30s. Swash Buckler (Rb) and The Stud (Upadhya) in 1-48s; (1,000m) 1-18s; (400m) 32s. Former far better. Russian Czar (Rutherford) in 1-30s; (1,000m) 1-15s; (400m) 29 3/5s.

1,000m: Free At Last (Rb) in 1-14s; (400m) 31s.

800m: Ghunghat (Nasruddin) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Fencai (M. Reuben) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Easy. Current Affair (Rb) in 51s; (400m) 25s. Good. Aliqa (M. Reuben) in 54s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Arizona Star (Sher S.) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Urged.

Gate practice, from 2,000m to 1,400m: Gold Discovery (A. P. Singh), Ascoril (Amil), Aventura (Islam), Rescue Act (Rabani) and Angeles (C. Alford) in 43 3/5s. First name jumped out well. Last named was slowly out.    


 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ ALTIMARA, A FORCE IN FUTURE CLASSICS 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 29: 
Altimara served notice when she walked away with the Command Calcutta 1,000 Guineas on Sunday. The victory by the Razeen-Treasure’s Nest filly was not only easily gained, she also clocked the best ever timing of 1:38.6 seconds. in this fillies’ classic. Moreover, she went on to justify that her performance in the Bangalore Derby (summer) — in which she finished a close fourth behind Allaire, Six Speed and Hello Brother — was no flash in the pan.

The 2-10 hot-favourite from trainer Darius Byramji’s yard was hardly pressed for victory. Jockey Aslam Kader, in fact, was a mere spectator until the home-turn when she had herself settled behind stablemate Alterezza, who cut a hot pace. Kader took over 300m from the post as he nudged her to accelerate. Riding her hands and heels past the distance-post, the Khaitan-owned filly did the rest though she was eased up in the last 100m.

She will be a force to reckon with in the rest of the classics.

If Altimara was the heroine, second placed Alvarada, the owner-mate, was also dignified in defeat. The Calcutta Monsoon Derby winner was marked superior to the other outstation challengers — Set Aside, Silver Toy and Code Word, who placed in that order.

Kader had earlier in the afternoon tasted defeat when Khaitan’s other hope Highland Flame, an 8-10 favourite in the Indian Gold Vase, proved no match for Ministerian in the Class I sprint over 1,200m. Enjoying a big pull from the MAM Ramaswamy-property, the Tecorno-Citiglow five-year-old, had to be urged from the 800m marker to stay behind the front-running Mystic Hill and Joe The Pro.

Ministerian, on the other hand, was ridden off the pace. Understandably, the Foyer-Ministrella four-year-old is known to be more comfortable over middle distances and his breezing late run, up in the stretch, was a pleasant sight. Nevertheless, both Joe The Pro and Highland Flame could be expected to do better in their next starts. While the Joe, a Z. Darashah-trainee, needs to improve his coat, the Flame could make amends over a slightly extended course.

Darashah’s other ward, Earl Grey, too, looked a shade jaded during the paddock parade in the Cheviot Handicap. It is another matter that the Razeen-Canoeing three-year-old was able to beat Lovely Prospect by half-a-length in a race which was also run at a solid pace.

Moreover, luck was also on Earl Grey’s side as the 9-10 favourite was presented with a wide opening along the rails in the home-stretch by the front-runners. K.P. Appu, his partner, was quick to grab the opportunity and the advantageous lead he built up 300m from the winning-post proved to be decisive.

Although Ballet Master in the Sreepriya Cup and Astride in the baby race — the Sun Lion Plate — were the easiest winners on the card, it was Cool Quest who impressed most while winning the 1,400m Beat The Distance Handicap from Airs Image.

The Darius-trained three-year-old not only carried his heavy impost of 61-kg to a shade under a two-lengths fluent victory, the Razeen-Cedar Point son also indicated he could win again. Airs Image defied the handicap and finished ahead of Tsaynen Blue who enjoyed a big pull at the weights. Tsaynen Blue may have to look for weaker opposition for a victory.    

 

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