Off the beaten track, India to field 4 pacers
BCCI to keep up pressure
Tigers on the Prowl in lead
Umpires stay firm on strike
Bengal in final
IPFA’s latest precondition
A dream comes true
Controversy over ticket distribution
Calcutta Races/ Favourites let down Kader
Bangalore Races/ ‘Symphony’ may sprint to victory

Cuttack, Dec. 1: 
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but circumstances may just be the force behind the formation of some queer combinations. For the first time in recent memory, India will take the field in a one-dayer at home with four medium-pacers and just one specialist spinner.

The reason behind sacrificing off-spinner Nikhil Chopra and going in with just one tweaker in Sunil Joshi may have to do with matters beyond cricket but the fact remains that India will field a quartet of seamers against Zimbabwe in tomorrow’s Pepsi series opener at the Barabati Stadium.

Conditions here do not exactly favour lively seam bowling, yet, Sourav Ganguly has no choice but to field the trio of Venkatesh Prasad, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan alongside Reetinder Singh Sodhi, who is set to earn his maiden international cap.

The Indian skipper dodged queries on why he has to dispense with an off-spinner against a side featuring a number of left-handers, saying three seamers and one spinner completed his arsenal in the recent one-dayers in Nairobi and Sharjah.

However, the hint of swallowing a bitter pill was evident in his way of explaining things as he had to say that conditions here are quite similar to those in Africa and UAE. He is relying somewhat on the early start (8.30 am), hoping the seamers to extract something from a moist pitch.

Chopra, on his part, was present during the morning workout and did quite a bit of bowling in the nets.

The Cuttack pitch, like most in the country, appears to be a shirtfront, which is highly unlikely to flatter the quickies and both skippers predicted that the bat will once again be the dominant weapon.

Heath Streak, looking fresh and hungry after forcing a creditable draw in the second and final Test in Nagpur, said he expects the pitch to offer some turn and didn’t rule out using three slow bowlers in Grant Flower, Dirk Viljoen and Brian Murphy.

While the first two are certain to play, a decision on leg-spinner Murphy will be taken tomorrow. Guy Whittall, who chips in frequently with his slow-medium stuff, has a knee injury and will play as a specialist batsman.

Streak said chances of Travis Friend playing his first international match in India are bright. The fast bowler, who impressed quite a few in Sharjah, was down with a left ankle injury though he generated good pace in the nets this morning.

Apart from Friend, Douglas Marillier is certain to be the man to be included in the XI after sitting out the Tests and he will partner Alistair Campbell as opener. The Flower brothers, Stuart Carlisle, Whittall and Viljoen are expected to carry the batting.

While the Zimbabwe middle-order looks strong on paper, it appears to be an area where Indians are found short on experience. With Sourav, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid occupying the first three slots, two more have to be picked from Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani and Shiv Sundar Das. Badani’s chances look better and local hero Shiv Sundar may have to wait a little longer for his one-day International debut.

The previous one-dayer here, incidentally, was between these two teams in 1998, and it witnessed a then world-record stand of 275 (unbroken) between Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. It has since been bettered by Sourav and Dravid (318 for second wicket) and Tendulkar-Dravid (331 for second wicket) but still stands as the highest fourth-wicket stand. That record-breaking pair is not around this time, again for reasons with little connection with cricket, though it has weakened India’s middle-order considerably.

“Look, our batsmen may be inexperienced in terms of matches played but they are talented. And you have to give them a chance at some stage,” argued Sourav. “What we are looking to do now is to play well, results will fall in place,” he said.

He may draw some confidence from the fact that his team got the better of the Zimbabweans in both outings in Sharjah and Streak’s team has lost all of their last five engagements. Streak, however, is not reading too much into recent setbacks.

“The matches we lost against India in Sharjah were close affairs where poor bowling in the closing overs cost us dear. It may just be different tomorrow,” Streak said.

Batting, clearly, is the strength of the visitors and one Andy Flower seems to have grown extremely fond of the Indian fodder. “Have to get him early,” said India coach John Wright. “Fielding and bowling to a disciplined line will be the key tomorrow,” he observed on the eve of his first ODI as India coach.


INDIA: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani/Shiv Sundar Das, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Vijay Dahiya, Sunil Joshi, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan and Venkatesh Prasad.

ZIMBABWE (from): Heath Streak (captain), Douglas Marillier, Alistair Campbell, Andy Flower, Stuart Carlisle, Grant Flower, Guy Whittall, Dirk Viljoen, Henry Olonga, Brian Strang, Travis Friend, Trevor Madondo, Gavin Rennie, Bryan Murphy, Mluleki Nkala.

Umpires: A.V. Jayasprakash, Jasbir Singh.

Third umpire: S.C. Gupte.    

Calcutta, Dec. 1: 
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is going international with its ‘attack’ on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

In submitting a report on match-fixing and related malpractices, the CBI devoted an entire chapter to the BCCI’s functioning.

Strictly speaking, that wasn’t part of CBI’s brief and what gave the BCCI even more ammunition is that the agency didn’t exactly cross-check all facts and figures.

Having taken on the CBI, by compiling its own rejoinder (made public Wednesday), the BCCI has decided to send a copy to all Executive Board members of the International Cricket Council.

This is in addition to posting it on its website ( and having copies circulated among all members of Parliament and the state legislatures.

It’s significant, perhaps, that the BCCI’s response came in Calcutta, Jagmohan Dalmiya’s home turf.    

Calcutta, Dec. 1: 
Tigers on the Prowl emerged leaders on the penultimate day of the Wills Cup golf championship with a tally of eight-under. Mohan Mehra played the lead role with a one-under 69 net.

The Anant Bajoria-led Pro-Cons are also in title hunt having returned four under-par scores. Sawal Chal Birdies Ki, an all-ladies’ team, and Archie’s Pals are the other teams still in with a chance.

The day’s best was brought in by Iqbal Chowdhury, Shafiqul Islam and Ms S. Raita (seven-under 63 net).

Dipyaman shoots gold

Dipyaman Mukherjee struck gold for Bengal in the men’s individual .22 free rifle prone event of the 44th national shooting championships which concluded in Phillaur (Punjab) Tuesday.

A silver came Dipyaman’s way when Bengal came second in the team event. Joydeep Karmakar and Sandip Kundu were the other team members.

The Bengal women (Chaitali Das, Mita Mukherjee and Maya Roy) earned bronze in the .22 sports rifle prone team event. CISF’s Kuheli Ganguli bagged gold in the individual event.

School basketball

The 25th inter-school basketball meet for the Bosco Challenge Shield will be held from Monday. The final of the meet, organised by Savio Sports & Games Club of Don Bosco Park Circus, comes off December 12. An exhibition match between the city’s two top clubs will be held on the final day.

Under-16 cricket

Bengal made 70 for four after bowling out Bihar for 157 on Day I of their under-16 Vijay Merchant meet tie today.

BRIEF SCORES:Bihar 157 (Daljeet Singh 41, Atul Priyanka 37; Riasat Ali 3/33, Sourav Sarkar 2/44, Avik Chowdhury 2/34, Sujan Biswas 2/29). Bengal 70/4 (Avik Chowdhury 34, Ishad Iqbal 2/18).    

Calcutta, Dec. 1: 
The crisis in local cricket league, emanating from the threat of a strike call by the Umpires’ Association of CAB, remains unchanged with both parties sticking to their guns over the issue.

While the UACAB has maintained that 80 of 110-odd umpires will not supervise their local engagements from Saturday onwards, the CAB says it is yet to be intimated about such a development.

The local umpires on Thursday threatened to launch an indefinite strike with immediate effect to press for their charter of demands which includes hike in match fees, a room for them in the CAB and representation in the sub-committee.

The CAB joint secretary, Debdas Banerjee, said today that he had not received any strike notice from the association and all the league matches scheduled for tomorrow will be played.

The umpires’ body, on the other hand, said that they had already sent their charter of demands to the authority. The chairman of UACAB as well as West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Mukul Gopal Mukherjee today met Banerjee. The detail of the meeting, however, could not be known.

The proposed strike by the UACAB may affect as many as 12 matches in the CAB first division league and another 7 matches in the second division, scheduled to be held tomorrow. However, it has been learnt that the CAB had approached former and retired umpires to supervise the matches as an alternative measure should the UACAB stays firm on its stand.

“The law will take its own course if the umpires do not report for duty tomorrow. Otherwise the matches will be called off,” Banerjee said.    

Calcutta, Dec. 1: 
Bengal will meet defending champions Guwahati in the final of the SBI inter-circle football tournament tomorrow.

Bengal earned a facile 3-1 win over Bhubaneswar in the semi-final at SAI Complex today. Amit Das, Goutam Ghosh and Niladri Sur scored apiece for the winners, while V. Bhagawati Rao pulled one back for Bhubaneswar. All goals were scored in the second half of the match.

In another semi-final, Guwahati rode a Sandipan Chakraborty strike to a win against Chennai.

MB seek change

Mohun Bagan have asked the CAB to change the schedule of their first division league match against Taltala Institute from December 9 to 10, citing unavailability of some of their key players at that time. Six of Mohun Bagan players will be engaged for state duty in the Ranji Trophy one-day ties from December 3 to 10.    

New Delhi, Dec. 1: 
Six clubs of the Indian Premier Football Association (IPFA) have thought of a novel way of avoiding the deadline set by the AIFF to confirm their participation in the 5th edition of the National Football League (NFL).

The six clubs, including East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Tollygunge Agragami intend to send a one-line reply, stating that they are unable to participate from December 10 onwards. F.C. Kochin, 1998-1999 NFL champions Salgaocar (Goa) and Mahindra United will also send a similar reply.

Such reply is being seen as an attempt on the IPFA’s part to send the ball in the AIFF court. With this, the clubs are not stating that they will not play in the NFL in the future. They are just seeking a postponement, which is in line with their original demand that the 5th NFL should commence after the AIFF elections on December 16.

Mohammedan Sporting do not figure in the NFL, so their reply is not expected on December 4. It does seem, however, that the other two clubs, JCT and Zee-Churchill Brothers, have decided to participate in the NFL, even if it starts from December 10.

JCT is compelled to take part due to election politics, as their managing director, Samir Thapar is a contender for the ensuing AIFF president’s post. Churchill Brother’s representative Joaquim Alemao had also hinted that they would participate.

At the Goa Football Association (GFA) meeting yesterday, however, Salgaocar refused a request by the GFA to take part in the NFL.

Meanwhile, current national coach Sukhwinder Singh is perturbed about preparation of the national team for the group 8 World Cup qualifiers, now slated to take place in the first week of March. He is concerned at the limited preparation time, as clubs may not be willing to release players for a fortnight’s camp.

The AIFF is also in a quandary because of the new dates for World Cup qualifying matches. If the NFL is again suspended, the schedule is likely to go haywire. Already the AIFF is toying with the idea of letting teams like Air India and ITI which may not have any players in the Indian team, play NFL matches whilst the Millennium Cup is going on. The 5th NFL thus seems jinxed in more ways than one.

IPFA meeting

The crucial meeting of IPFA, scheduled for tomorrow, will now take place on December 5, just hours before the AIFF holds its emergency meeting in New Delhi to break the deadlock over the future of NFL.

Announcing this in Calcutta today, IPFA vice president Anjan Mitra said that the proposed meeting will discuss in detail the rebel body’s demands and the prospect of its joining in the NFL. “We are keeping all options open. But we will take a decision (about participation in the league) only after the AIFF agrees to hold the league after their elections.”    

Cuttack, Dec. 1: 
Graeme Hick was perhaps the most talked about cricketer before making his international debut. Come tomorrow Reetinder Singh Sodhi, the Indian version of Hick, will get his first feel of international cricket in Game I of the five-match Pepsi one-day series against Zimbabwe.

Having been brought up in a cricketing ambience with the sole target of making it big on the biggest stage, it will be a dream coming true for Sodhi. But the 20-year-old from Patiala will also have to carry the additional burden of living upto expectations of a nation looking for a genuine allrounder.

And Sodhi is getting increasingly impatient. “There is no pressure on me, I just can’t wait for tomorrow. The sooner it comes the better,” was how he put it.

“Yeah, it will be a dream coming true. Something I have waited and worked for years. I’ll put in a 100 per cent. Now that I am set to make my debut, establishing myself in the team is the next target,” Sodhi said, adding that he is prepared for batting at any position. For the record, he comes in at No. 3 for Punjab in the one-dayers. Tomorrow, however, he may have to wait longer.

The added pressure of producing something exceptional after being touted as a rare talent for years is not making him nervous, Sodhi claimed.

“The bigger and difficult the task, more you enjoy,” was the emphatic reply, but he knows it will be quite a task bowling on what appears to be yet another dead track.

“In India, normally there is nothing for bowlers in one-dayers and the best ploy is to stick to a line. That is the key,” observed the Under-15 World Cup-winning India captain.

Tomorrow when he confronts the Andy Flowers and Heath Streaks, he will perhaps pay a silent tribute to his uncle H.S. Sodhi, a sports scientific officer who passed away last year.

“He was my biggest motivator, I will miss him tomorrow,” said Sodhi. The other influential man in his career is father and coach Meheshinder Singh Sodhi, a former Punjab off-spinner. Apart from cricket, young Reetinder wants to pursue a career in academics and carries his books even when he is on the road playing. “I wish to become an IAS officer, that’s another dream I wish to fulfil,” he said.    

Cuttack, Dec. 1: 
Anticipating a local boy featuring in the Indian XI, all 25,000 tickets for the first one-dayer between India and Zimbabwe were gobbled up in no time. But while Shiv Sundar Das may have to wait for his one-day debut, the tenth one-dayer in the city has generated some controversy.

Three Public Interest Litigation (PIL) cases have been filed against the Orissa Cricket Association (OCA), charging it of improper handling in distribution and sale of tickets.

OCA secretary Ashirbad Behra, denying the charges, counter-accused state sports minister Ranendra Pratap Swain of foul play.

“His candidates lost in the OCA elections, so he’s trying to vent his ire in this way. The OCA has handled everything in the right way,” Behra said.

Of the 25,000 tickets, 5000 are complimentary, 8000 distributed among affiliated units and other dignitaries, while the balance was sold to the public. Those 12,000 tickets were sold out on the very first day itself.    

Calcutta, Dec. 1: 
A firm favourite to lead-in four odds-on winners in today’s race-card, Aslam Kader belied expectations. Kader, the retained jockey of the leading horse-owner Deepak Khaitan, was caught on the wrong foot from the word ‘go.’ His first ride, Aracruz, was a hot 3-10 favourite in the opener, the Redbay Handicap, but Alsheim, the owner-mate, beat her in a tight-finish. In the next event, the Breeders’ Cup — a juvenile race — Kader’s half-money favourite, Alamito, was a totally mis-match for the field. The race was won by the next horse in the betting, Angeles — sporting the second colours of the owner. Angeles came from a near-impossible position to score after a slow start, .

A frustrated Kader met with the same fate on Acrosto, a 3-10 hot-property in the Manasseh Memorial Cup. The owner-mate, Anolini, won the race. The story in the feature, the Hilliard Cup was slightly different when the M. Ariff-owned Starry Flag upset all calculations while Kader just about managed to save the place-money.

Opting out of Ammeter, because of sickness, a disgusted Kader also witnessed his last firm-favourite giving an armchair-ride to jockey Shanker.


1. Redbay Handicap 1,200m: (4-2-7-1) Alsheim (C. Alford) 1; Aracruz (Kader) 2; Staffordshire (M. Reuben) 3; Almond Rock (A. Imran) 4. Won by: SH; 2; 1/2; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 67; Place: 12; 11; 17; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 414. Fav: Aracruz (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.

2. Breeders’ Cup 1,100m: (4-3-5-2) Angeles (Rajendra) 1; Andrada (Shanker) 2; Ascoril (C. Alford) 3; Sebastian (Rabani) 4. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-7.5). Tote: Win Rs 40; Place: 16; 48; Quinella: 322; Tanala: 1,486. Fav: Alamito (1). Winner trained by Vijay S. (Note: Alamito was disqualified failing to weight-in).

3. Spook Handicap 1,200m: (5-1-2-6) Abstone Queen (A. Imran) 1; Master Bold (C. Alford) 2; Armila (Yasin) 3; Private Lives (Islam) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; 1/2; 1-1/4; (1-14.2). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 14; 19; 30; Quinella: 47; Tanala: 572. Fav: Abstone Queen (5). Winner trained by Daniel D.

4. Manasseh Memorial Cup 1,600m: (2-5-3-1) Anolini (C. Alford) 1; Classic Pursuit (Rabani) 2; Double Bull (A. Imran) 3; Acrosto (Kader) 4. Won by: 1-1/2; 2; Nk; (1-40.6). Tote: Win Rs 54; Place: 15; 31; Quinella: 232; Tanala: 1,169. Fav: Acrosto (1). Winner trained by Vijay S.

5. Hilliard Cup 1,400m: (4-6-7-2) Starry Flag (Connorton) 1; Allodium (Rabani) 2; Alyssum (Kader) 3; Artwork (C. Alford) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; 1/2; 1/2; (1-25.8). Tote:Win Rs 415; Place: 46; 24; 11; Quinella: 825; Tanala: 12,927. Fav: Alyssum (7). Winner trained by Bharath S.

6. Good Hope Handicap 1,400m: (5-8-2-6) Ammeter ( (Shanker) 1; Magnifico (C. Alford) 2; Bul Bul (Engineer) 3; Blessed Spirit (A. Imran) 4. Won by: 8-1/4; 1; 1-3/4; (1-26.8). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 14; 14; 18; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 100. Fav: Ammeter 5). Winner trained by D. Byramji.

Jackpot: Rs 1,29,051; (C) Rs 22,774.

Treble: (i) Rs 292; (ii) Rs 4,054.    

Bangalore, Dec. 1: 
Symphony Of Fire, with her proven sprinting ability, may be hard to down in the 1,200m Sprinters Trial Stakes, a terms event in tomorrow’s race-card. The Darashah-ward with Appu in the saddle has beaten the best in the business.


2.30 pm: Star Of Gaiety 1. Black Ocean 2. Different Ballgame 3.

3 pm: Mr. Belvedere 1. Donna Mia 2. Walk In The Clouds.

3.30 pm: Almost Heaven 1. Celestial Gold 2. Saffron Finch 3.

4 pm: Symphony Of Fire 1. Tempt Me Not 2. Scenic Star 3.

4.30 pm: Royal Debut 1. Questionable 2. Paris Lights 3.

5 pm: Daiimio 1. Water Baby 2. Selected Princess 3.

Day’s Best: Symphony Of Fire

Double: Star Of Gaiety & Almost Heaven    


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