Players must themselves be honest: Sourav
Orissa tail dents Bengal confidence
Bagan begin well
Sourav declines to comment
Trambak retain bridge crown
India open against Indonesia
Mumbai racing/ Al Dente for Maharaja Trophy
Bangalore Racing/Astronautics wins
Calcutta Racing / Track trials

Calcutta, Dec.30: 
Sourav Ganguly’s appointment as full-time captain has probably been the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket in 2000. For the captain’s thoughts on an extraordinary year — exclusive to The Telegraph — do read on.

Q: The year began with an embarrassing defeat in Sydney and ended with a double-win over Zimbabwe. What’s your assessment of Indian cricket in 2000?

A: As we weren’t consistent, it was up-and-down. However, today, there’s a marked difference in the team. The fielding, for instance, has improved and the youngsters have provided the cutting edge.

Q: So, has Indian cricket then moved forward?

A: Difficult to say right now. I’ll prefer making a comment after the home series against Australia (from February) and the summer trip to Zimbabwe. The signs are good, if you look at how the Zaheer Khans have performed, but it’s not time yet to pass judgement.

Q: John Wright’s appointment as the India coach, in itself precedent-creating, has been widely welcomed. Your views?

A: I go along with those who feel it’s a step in the right direction.

Q: After a year of turmoil, though, will Indian cricket ever be the same again?

A: Why not? What’s happened off the field is history and, in any case, no individual is bigger than the game. I don’t see why cricket, in India, shouldn’t emerge even stronger.

Q: But the CBI chief (R.K.Raghavan) has suggested the agency has more up its sleeve...

A: The CBI should then either reveal everything or close the file. This can’t go on forever. The indicted players have been banned and, now, Indian cricket should be allowed to move on.

Q: Did you, at the time of the Hansie Cronje scandal (early April), think Indian cricket too would be more than just shaken?

A: Not then... But, after what came out (especially in the CBI report), my thoughts have been different though I wouldn’t like to speak of any one individual.

Q: Besides responding differently have you, for example, gone back in time and pondered over the matches where everything wasn’t above board?

A: I haven’t, for the simple reason it’s not going to help me or Indian cricket either today or in the future. It’s history; it’s an unfortunate chapter in our cricket. Let’s leave it at that.

Q: Your thoughts on Cronje?

A: He shouldn’t have done what he did... Not after cricket gave him so much. Having said that, let me add it’s easy for me to sit in judgement but, then, I don’t know the circumstances which made Cronje engage in unethical dealings.

Q: How would you rate Cronje as a player and captain?

A: As a cricketer, just average... As for his captaincy, I’ve always maintained a captain is only as good as his team. Cronje had a fantastic side.

Q: Are you satisfied with the BCCI’s Code of Conduct and the ICC’s desire to move ahead with investigations?

A: Well, yes... Bottomline, however, is that irrespective of what you have in place the players must themselves be honest.

Q: You must have read about the rather radical proposals (tapping phones and monitoring E-mails, for instance) from Justice Edwin King...

A: But that would invade on the players’ privacy. I wouldn’t like anybody to eavesdrop on a conversation between my wife and I. Similarly, somebody speaking to his girl-friend, wouldn’t like that to be recorded by a third-party.

Q: To talk of your own performances, how would you write the 2000-balance sheet?

A: I wish we had played more Tests (instead of just six). I also wish I had done better in the opportunities I got (two fifties in ten innings)... But, yes, I shouldn’t have thrown away (getting out for 84) that hundred in Dhaka... It’s the Test hundreds which mean most. That’s real cricket.

Q: In the ODIs, you topped once again (in fact, thrice in the last four years)...

A: It’s nice that I remained consistent (a 56-plus average in 32 matches, with seven hundreds), getting runs everywhere with the exception of Sharjah (one fifty in nine innings). The experience gained, in 2000, will only help.

[Sourav picked the following as his five “most satisfying” ODI innings: 141 vs Pakistan in Adelaide, 141 not out against South Africa in Nairobi, 100 vs Australia in Melbourne, 105 not out against South Africa in Jamshedpur and 144 vs New Zealand in Ahmedabad. There were two other hundreds — in Dhaka and Nairobi.]

Q: Do you yourself admire any batsman (in ODIs)?

A: Sachin Tendulkar and Michael Bevan. One for overall greatness, the other for phenomenal consistency.

Q: As you ended up playing non-stop international cricket for eight months (from August 1999), leading up to the start of the County season, wasn’t it a mistake signing up with Lancashire?

A: I wouldn’t say so... Obviously, the motivation-level couldn’t have been at its highest throughout the six months, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a huge disappointment I couldn’t get a Championship hundred, but I did very well in one-day competitions. Given the opportunity, youngsters must accept the challenge of playing six days a week for six months at a stretch.

Q: Specifically, what did you gain?

A: Physically, in the mind and also technically. For example, failure on one day made me come back more determined the next... The experience made me tougher mentally. Then, one simply had to remain fit and, so, I did emerge fitter. Technically, too, I gained by being regularly exposed to varied attacks and different conditions.

Q: How many marks would you give yourself as captain?

A: (Smiles) Let others do that... All I’ll say is that I try to win and, as I’ve said before, lead by instinct. Almost always, that is.

Q: You often bump into the Ian Chappells and Geoffrey Boycotts. Have you, at any time, talked about captaincy with them?

A: Not so with Chappell, but with Geoffrey, yes... I’ve spent quite some time talking with Geoffrey... He speaks sense. Moreover, what Geoffrey says, suits my cricket.

Q: Having been the full-time captain for nine-ten months, what do you now feel makes a good captain?

A: A captain is only as good as his team... Handling the boys is a top component (of captaincy) and it’s essential that the captain himself perform.

Q: At times, you get carried away...

A: At times, yes... But, I’m enthusiastic and want India to win. I do play with passion — don’t think I can otherwise.

Q: Still, you must be regretting the Kanpur episode (which invited a one-match ban)?

A: I do and I’ll make sure there’s no repeat (of over-appealing and seeking to put the umpires under pressure).

Q: How conscious are you of being a role model?

A: I realise many people do look up to me. At the same time, that conscious bit doesn’t have to weigh on me. It’s okay if I don’t harm somebody or don’t intentionally hurt anybody’s feelings.

Q: I suppose you’ll be choosy about endorsements?

A: Absolutely.

Q: The final question: Have you begun planning for the Australian series?

A: I will, soon enough... The planning apart, our batsmen will have to be consistent and the spinners will have to deliver. Australia, after all, has batsmen who get runs and bowlers who take wickets.


Calcutta, Dec. 30: 
ORISSA 256 & 249
BENGAL 117 & 71/3

Arun Lal firmly believes Bengal can still win this match. Ashok Malhotra also shares the same view.

However, optimism hasn’t quite been the essence of this current team’s players. They have often failed to deliver when it mattered most, and made heavy weather of easy situations.

Today was no different. After Orissa’s last three wickets added 167 runs to their overnight total, the batsmen became easy fodder for their bowlers.

Bengal, needing 389 for victory, were 71 for three at close on the penultimate day.

“The match is loaded 60-40 in our favour. The first hour will be crucial tomorrow. If we can dismiss Sourav Ganguly early, it will be easier for the bowlers,” said Shiv Sundar Das after the match.

Devang Gandhi felt that staying put during the opening session will be vital to his team’s chances.

It was the Orissa tailenders who frustrated the Bengal attack till 20 minutes before tea. After P. Jayachandra and Debashish Mohanty added 62 for the eighth wicket, Jagannath Das (44) and Ajay Barik (50) put on a 110-run partnership for the last wicket.

The bowling, as usual, sans Sourav lacked penetration and imagination while the fielding fared no better. Apart from two catches being dropped, the poor ground fielding exposed the appalling fitness level among the players.

The captaincy also showed signs of strain. Apart from Sourav, Devang relied very much on Utpal Chatterjee and Sourashish Lahiri. Wrichik Mazumder was given very little chance and has ended up bowling 5.4 overs in the match. The leg spinner, however, struck the final blow shortly after being asked to bowl.

“His confidence level is not too high,” Devang tried to explain later. But why was he then picked in the side?

It is also true, though, that the bowlers themselves failed to prove themselves competent enough for the job. As Jagannath Das and Barik stayed put for 140 minutes and showed tremendous temperament and application in tackling everything that was on offer, the Bengal skipper was left clueless.

The move to promote Wrichik at No. 3 in the second innings also defied logic. Devang insisted it was “part of a plan” to counter Mohanty. But keeping the top-order away from the new ball (read Mohanty) is no encouraging sign. It doesn’t really speak highly of the confidence level among the batsmen.

The openers had started in fine fashion but Amitava Banerjee’s penchant for attempting too many strokes early on cost him his wicket. He survived once but was plumb in front to Mohanty.

Arijit Bose looked well set after seeing off the new ball confidently. But a rash stroke saw him spooning the ball to short cover.

Wrichik knew very little about the one from Mohanty that knocked his off stump.

Sourav, who survived a close leg before call off the very first ball from Mohanty, saw to it that no more wickets fell. There were three delightfully struck boundaries during his brief stay at the wicket.

It is on the India captain that all hopes rest. Only he can inspire them to a victory.

Similarly, Mohanty’s success will determine Orissa’s fortunes. The pacer has already picked eight wickets in the match.

The sight of Sourav at the opposite end may just egg him on further.


Calcutta, Dec. 30: 
Nikhil Haldipur (137) and Gautam Chakraborty (122) helped Mohun Bagan declare at 412 for three in 65.5 overs on the opening day of the CAB league. Ballygunge had replied with 48 for two at close.


Mohun Bagan 412/3 decl. (Nikhil Haldipur 137, Gautam Chakraborty 122, Arindam Sarkar 85). Ballygunge United 42/2.

Ananda Bazar Patrika 184 (Mirmoy Majumder 102; Nazar Ali 5/67, Rakesh Joshi 3/18). Md. Sp. 105/2 (Nadeem Ashraf 37, Prasant Khare 35 batting).

BNR 341/5 (Mithun Dutta 116, Swapan Ghosh 79 n.o., Kinkar Roy 49). George Telegraph 14 for no loss.

Suburban 190 (Sanjay Ranjan 78; Debdulal Majumder 5/53, Pinaki Majumder 3/54) vs Shyambazar Club.

Sporting Union 389/6 decl. (Prasanta Singha Roy 178, Subhashis Das 85; Chandrakanth Sanyal 5/135). Aikya Sammilani 33/5 (Akbar Ali Khan 3/5).

CPT 286 (Shib Sankar Banerjee 60, Shyamal Saha 50; Pradipta Majumder 5/83). vs Wari AC.

Barisha 195/10 (Saikat Seth 68, Subhadeep Ganguly 42; Nasim Ali 5/60, Ritom Kundu 3/60). Belgachia United 32/2.

Shibpur Inst. 400/8 decl. (Kousik Bhattacharjee 112, Anirban Gupta 57; Sandip Pathak 3/98). Mohunlal Club 36/2.

St Xavier’s in semis

St Xavier’s Collegiate School and St James reached the semi-finals of the Pepsi Youth meet today. St Xavier’s beat Hindu School by 69 runs, while St James thrashed Patha Bhavan by 103 runs.


St Xavier’s 287/5 (Nilar Chatterjee 109, Bikram Banerjee 90). Hindu School 218 (Sandeepan Halder 145 n.o.; Kanishka Bagariya 4/43). St Xavier’s won by 69 runs.

St James’ 294/6 (Sreyas Basu Dasgupta 71, Sarbo Sengupta 73). Patha Bhavan 191/9 (Romit Kanungoe 66 n.o.; Vikram Golani 4/25). St James won by 103 runs


Calcutta, Dec. 30: 
Sourav Ganguly today declined to comment on former coach Aunshuman Gaekwad’s remark that the India captain was unco-operative.

“I don’t wish to comment on statements such as this. Period,” Sourav said. Gaekwad, in a website interview, has accused Sourav of being “stubborn” in his attitude.

Gaekwad, who was replaced after the World Cup, was reappointed for a six-week period in October-November.


Calcutta, Dec. 30: 
Fancied Trambak Rubber, comprising Hari Shankar Bajoria, Sudhir Ganguly, Ajay Brahmachari, Kamal Roy, Subrata Saha and Alok Sadhu, won the Oindrilla Kundu memorial bridge championship for the second year in succession at DKS today. In the last four sessions played today, they scored 76 VP to finish the 12-session Swiss event with a tally of 221 VP out of a maximum possible 300.

North Calcutta Bridge Club (A Ghosh, S Basak, P Chakraborty, S Das, S Ghosh, B Poddar) were marginally behind on 219 but that was enough to give them not only the silver medal but also the Dr S.K. Guha memorial trophy for the best performance by a team of non-masters. Chandannagore Card Club (K P Chatterjee, B Pal, A Biswas, B Mazumdar, P Bhattacharjee, S Sur) finished third with a score of 215.

The other prize winners were, in order: Baruipur Bridge Club (211), P Ghosh’s IV (207), NRB’s IV (206), A K Mukherjee’s IV (204), SCPCC (203), JCT (203), Haldibari (202), Dilip Kundu’s IV (201) and Ronita’s IV (200).


New Delhi, Dec. 30: 
India kick off their group B campaign on January 11 against Indonesia, the team they are expected to beat in the Millennium Super Soccer Cup.

India play two of their matches under floodlights. Their last tie, with Uruguay on January 15, is also at 7.30p.m.

Two of the quarter finals will be also be staged in Calcutta, which will host 12 of the 32 matches. Kochi will stage 13 and Goa seven, including a quarter final each.

Doordarshan today promised that all 32 matches will be telecast live on the Doordarshan Sports Channel. India’s matches and highlights of the main match on other days will be shown the same night on the national channel. Group 1 (Kochi): Jan. 10: Yugoslavia vs Iraq (7 pm). Jan. 12: Bosnia vs Bangladesh (7.30 pm). Jan. 14: Yugoslavia vs Bangladesh (5.30 pm). Jan. 15: Iraq vs Bosnia (7.30 pm). Jan. 16: Iraq vs Bangaldesh (5 pm); Yugoslavia vs Bosnia (7 pm).

Group 2 (Kochi): Jan. 11: Uruguay vs Iceland (5.30 pm); India vs Indonesia (7.30 pm). Jan. 13: India vs Iceland (3 pm); Uruguay vs Indonesia (5 pm). Jan. 15: Iceland vs Indonesia (5.30 pm); India vs Uruguay (7.30pm)

Group 3 (Goa): Jan. 11: Romania vs Jordan (3.45 pm). Jan. 12: Cameroon vs Hong Kong (5.30 pm). Jan. 14: Romania vs Hong Kong (3.30 pm).Jan. 15: Cameroon vs Jordan (5 pm). Jan. 17: Cameroon vs Romania (5 pm). Jan. 18: Jordan vs Hong Kong (5 pm).

Group 4 (Calcutta): Jan. 10: Chile vs Bahrain ( 2.45 pm); Uzbekistan vs Japan (5 pm). Jan. 12: Chile vs Japan (3.30 pm). Jan. 13: Uzbekistan vs Bahrain (7 pm). Jan. 15: Chile vs Uzbekistan (3 pm). Jan. 17: Bahrain vs Japan (3 pm).

Quarter finals: Jan. 18: I. Winners of Gr. 2 vs Runners up of Gr. 1 ( Kochi, 7pm). Jan. 20: III Winners of Gr. 1 vs Runners up of Gr. 3 (Goa, 4.30pm); II Winners of Gr. 4 vs Runners up of Gr. 2 ( Calcutta, 6.30pm). Jan. 21: IV Winners of Gr. 3 vs Runners up of Gr. 4 ( Calcutta, 5 pm). Semi-finals: Jan. 22: Winners of Qtr. I vs Winners of Qtr. 2 ( Calcutta, 5 pm). Jan. 23: Winners of Qtr. 3 vs Winners of Qtr. 4 ( Calcutta, 5 pm).

3rd place and final: Jan. 25: 3rd place match (3 pm) followed by final in Calcutta (5 pm).


Mumbai, Dec. 30: 
The Darius Byramji-trained failed favourite, Al Dente is expected to make amends in the 1,600m Maharaja Sir Harisinghji Trophy in Mumbai on Sunday. Aslam kader partners the four-year-old filly by Razeen out of Ideas and Trends.


1.30 pm: Dhama Dham 1. Super Cop 2. Little Princess 3.

2 pm: Taipan 1. Chili Lady 2. Sunstreak 3.

2.30 pm: Reflecting 1. Prince Of Fashion 2. Twist Afleet 3.

3 pm: Bonjour Tristesse 1. Magic Boy 2. Amber Brown 3.

3.30 pm: Razalin 1. Strength To Strength 2. Yewall 3.

4 pm: Al Dente 1. Great Investment 2. Star Fortune 3.

4.30 pm: Salsa Dancer 1. Secretly 2. Witchcraft 3.

5 pm: Daring Don 1. Among Men 2. Zeta Jones 3.

Day’s Best: Bonjour Tristesse Double: Taipan & Salsa Dancer    

Bangalore, Dec. 30: 
Coming with a late run, the Habib Khan-trained colt, Astronautics, easily won the 1,600m Shantiniketan Cup in Bangalore on Saturday. Apprentice Harish partnered the winner.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Magod Falls Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (7-6-10) Sounds Sweet (S. Babu) 1; Krugar Park 2; Sweeping Statement 3. Won by: Nk; 4-1/4; (1-33.9). Tote : Win Rs 36; Place: 16; 17; 20; Quinella: 83; Tanala: 560. Fav: Turf Rythm (1).

2. Magod Falls Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (2-5-7) Mantles Pride (Shakti) 1; I Me And Mine 2; Cashflo 3. Won by: 2; 1/2; (1-34.2). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 18; 18; 21; Quinella: 123; Tanala: 787. Fav: Mantles Pride (2).

3. R. Subbanna Memorial Plate 1,200m: (2-1-7) One So Wonderful (Harish) 1; Forest Pegasus 2; Musselburgh 3. Won by: 2; Hd; (1-19.3). Tote: Win Rs 49; Place: 18; 41; 28; Quinella: 650; Tanala: 7,378. Fav: One So Wonderful (2).

4. Shantiniketan Cup 1,600m: (7-5-2) Astronautics (Harish) 1; Pas De Memories 2; Estocade 3 . Not run: Antwerp (4). Won by: 3-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-44.5). Tote: Win Rs 67; Place: 14; 10; 15; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 244 . Fav: Pas De Memories (5).

5. Karwar Plate 1,200m: (6-2-8) Sea Horse (Ruzaan) 1; Grisogono 2; Sun Court 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 3/4; (1-20.3). Tote: Win Rs 109; Place: 31; 26; 17; Quinella: 354; Tanala: 2,213. Fav: Samanzar (10).

6. Swarnamukhi Plate 2,000m: (1-4-6) Appeaser (Kader) 1; Sendawar 2; Almaz 3. Won by: 3; 1-1/2; (2-14). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 12; 15; 28; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 408. Fav: Appeaser (1).

7. Bugs Bunny Plate 1,400m: (1-2-8) Way To The Stars (Srinath) 1; Allocate 2; Enthronement 3. Won by: 9-1/2; 4; (1-32.5). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 16; 14; 33; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 278. Fav: Allocate (2).

Jackpot: Rs 90,652; (C) Rs 8,773.

Treble: (i) Rs 8,011; (ii) Rs 926.


Calcutta, Dec. 30: 
The following track work was noted today:

Outer sand track

2,200m: Tsaynen Blue (Gowli) 2-53s; (1,000m) 1-15s; (400m) 30s. Fit.

1,200m: Lockers Park (Rabani) and Soviet Port (Islam) in 1-24s; (400m) 29s. Both level. Acaress (M. Reuben) in 1-27s; (400m) 30s. Easy.

1,000m: Tequila Shot (Shanker) and Diplomatic Gesture (G. Singh) in 1-13s; (400m) 29s. Former better. Queen’s Logic (Rabani) and Super Smile (Islam) 1-11s; (400m) 30s. Former better. Aiberni (Rabani) and Aflicker (Islam) in 1-11s; (400m) 29s. Fornmer better. Classic Pursuit (Islam) Starry Flag (Rabani) in 1-11s; (400m) 30s. Former far better.

800m: Heaven’s Blessing (G. Singh) and Crystal Star (Shanker) in 57s;(400m) 29s. Former far better. Abroach (A. P. Singh) and Airborne (Amil) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Former better. Tajik (Gowli) in 59s; (400m) 30s. Aventura (Rabani) and Sunset Dawn (Islam) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Both level. Storm Centre (Rb) and Madame X (Upadhya) in 57s; (400m) 28s. Both were urged to level. Double Cross (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Bountiful Gesture (A. P. Singh) in 53s; (400m) 28s. Note. Aherlow (Surender) and Automatic (A. :P. Singh) in 59s; (400m) 31s. They were pushed to level. Alembic (Amil) in 58s; (400m) 29s. Fit.

600m: A 2yo Metal Precieux/Leprec-haun Act (Engineer) in 42s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

1,200m: Almond Rock (A. Imran) in 1-24s; (400m) 24s. fit. Solo Act (Engineer) in 1-30s; (400m) 30s.

1,000m: Sky Command (Haroon) in 1-10s; (400m) 29s. Desert Force (M. Reuben) in 1-5s; (400m) 25s. Moved well. Cup Of Life (Rb) in 1-10s; (400m) 28s.

800m: Bold Apparel (Upadhya) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Moved well. No Surrender (M. Reuben) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Staffordshire (M. Reuben) 51s; (400m) 24s. Handy. Armila (Locke) 59s; (400m) 27s. All Jade (Locke) 55s; (400m) 26s. Global Harmony (G. Singh) 54s; (400m) 26s. Easy.

Drug test: Ten horses from leading stables in Bangalore and two from Mumbai have failed drug tests after winning their respective events in the first two weeks of the month. A major race winner in Calcutta, too, has tested positive. It is the second such case in the two-month old winter season.


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