Once on field, players determine own destiny: Wrigt
Bagan, DKS refuse to play on ‘grassy’ track
Hirwani should’ve played too: Prasanna
58 pledge to donate eyes
21 teams for natl rowing
Teammates spoil Tendulkar’s day out
Pataudi likely to represent BCCI at Sir Don’s memorial services
Sandipan loses
Mumbai Races/ Sedona may strike again
Calcutta Races/ Silver Toy impresses

 
 
ONCE ON FIELD, PLAYERS DETERMINE OWN DESTINY: WRIGT 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Mumbai, Feb. 27: 
As it is for captain Sourav Ganguly, the test for coach John Wright has only begun today. And, like Sourav, Wright knows that too well.

Wright, India’s first overseas coach, spoke to The Telegraph last evening just hours before the Australia series got underway.

Following are excerpts

On his thoughts on the series

Pretty simple: No matter what the record and reputations, the bottomline that will count is who plays better. Over the next few days and weeks. We’ve got to consistently get the basics right.

On having started his innings as coach against ‘soft’ opponents Zimbabwe

We still didn’t field well, dropped too many catches... I accept it’s going to take time before things fall in place, but the beginning must be made quickly. In any case, it’s not just the fielding I’ve been focussing on — it’s stump-to-stump bowling too.

On having made the players sweat like never before during both phases of the Chennai conditioning camp

The idea was to make it challenging, to give a purpose to the exercise. And, believe me, I won’t forget the players’ enthusiasm... To repeat what I’ve said earlier, if we are to match Australia (on the field), we must first match their training. I’m a believer in focussed workouts. There’s actually got to be a purpose behind everything.

On just how much a coach can do

He can definitely help create the most conducive environment and, most important, prepare the players for what lies ahead. Once they take the field, though, the players alone will determine their destiny.

On the Australian team

There was some surprise over the inclusion of (Michael) Kasprowicz, but for me, the tour party is as I thought it would be... Fact of the matter is I wouldn’t like to dwell too much on the visiting team and its record. It’s important, after all, not to lose focus: Quickly getting ourselves into top gear. Of course, we’ve done the necessary homework but the emphasis was on our own preparation.

On whether he is ‘relieved’ there’s no Brett Lee

(Grins) I would have been happier had he been available. There’s nothing like taking on the best XI.

On whether his own preparation (as player) used to be different for engagements against Australia

Wouldn’t say so, but one was aware they played hard cricket. (Adds a trifle emotionally) I grew up on a farm where listening to radio commentary (from Australia) was an exciting pastime... Later, I remember we beat Australia in successive series (in Australia and in New Zealand, 1985-86)... No team has since beaten them twice in succession. So... We know Australia is the No. 1 team but, equally, it’s a great opportunity for our boys. A fine showing will be the ideal stepping stone for the rest of the year… There’s so much to gain.

On Australia’s disappointing lead-up to the Test series

The games in Nagpur and here? Well, again to look at our (India A and Mumbai) boys, not the visiting team, it’s very pleasing that they performed so well. Among other things, it means there are players who have it in them to push the more established ones hard. As coach, I can only be happy if options are available.

On attitude being a key element in his scheme of things

I wouldn’t go by talent alone. For me, it has to be a mix of both (attitude and talent).

On his message at the final team meeting ahead of the series

Relax before the first of the big days… You know, players are already under pressure on the eve of a big series and, frankly, I’m not the type to add to that. Remember, the process of preparing the players is already over by then.

On the software (developed by a Bangalore firm) to be used during the series

I’ve provided some inputs and, in time, I expect it to be complete when there will be something specific to fielding as well, not just batting and bowling.

Finally, on the hand-written charts he carries to team meetings

(Smiles) The suggestion came from some of the boys… The charts talk about being honest, the virtues of playing with passion and of setting standards worthy of emulation. Nothing complicated.

   

 
 
BAGAN, DKS REFUSE TO PLAY ON ‘GRASSY’ TRACK 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Eastern Railway Sports Association today moved into the second round of the CAB senior division league play-offs with a ten-wicket thrashing of Burnpur Cricket Club.

Mohun Bagan’s second-round match versus Dakshin Kalikata Sansad (DKS) could not start because there was too much grass on the pitch.

Both teams arrived at the (neutral) Greer ground and found the grass on the pitch to be rather long and surely unkempt. Neither team wanted to play on that surface.

One umpire was present and hence an immediate decision was not taken. The teams waited for an hour and then, with intervention from their officials, decided to go back.

Burnpur came in with only six players, rumoured as a sort of protest against the CAB’s giving East Bengal four points for Burnpur not playing in the replay when East Bengal had failed to turn up on the first occasion. It was a foregone conclusion as Burnpur folded up for 106, Pronab Prasad of Eastern Railway claiming four for 51.

Raja Banerjee and Diptendu Mahata stayed unbeaten on 50 each to fetch an easy victory.

Two second-round matches got underway today. Shyambazar scored 271 for nine versus Sporting Union, Subhomoy Das hitting 125 and Vikram Jaswara slamming a 40-ball 71.

Aryan made 250 against Calcutta Port Trust with a 101 from Hasmukh Patel and fifties from Ajoy Das and Sovan Mitra. Port Trust had made 15 for one by the end of the day.

SUMMARISED SCORES

Burnpur CC 106 (Pranab Prasad 4/51). Eastern Railway 108/0 (Raja Banerjee 50 n.o., Dioptendu Mahata 50 n.o.). E. Railway won by ten wickets.

Shyambazar 371/9 (Subhomoy Das 125, Vikram Jaswara 71) vs Sporting Union.

Aryan 250 (Hasmukh Patel 101, Ajoy Das 50, Sovan Mitra 50; Shyamal Saha 4/45). Calcutta Port Trust 15/1.

   

 
 
HIRWANI SHOULD’VE PLAYED TOO: PRASANNA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
India’s ploy of fielding just two spinners in the first Test against Australia hasn’t impressed Erapalli Prasanna. It only shows that the team isn’t playing to its strength and things haven’t been planned properly, he said today.

Prasanna was in the city en route to Dhaka where he will train Bangladesh skipper, off-spinner Naimur Rahman, following a BCB request.

“You have to realise what your strength is and go flat out. Look at Australia, they know pace is their best option and went in with three seamers,” Prasanna said.

“They could have sacrificed a seamer for Colin Miller but they are dead sure of their strength and stuck to their plan.”

From what he saw on the TV, Prasanna — one of the best off-spinners of all time — feels the Wankhede Stadium wicket has shown encouraging signs for spinners on the first day itself.

The absence of Anil Kumble doesn’t change the fact that spin is our best bet, the Bangalorean said. “You have to play with whom you have and not crib about whom you don’t. Since spin is our strength, we should have fielded three instead of two and gone flat out.”

Prasanna feels Narendra Hirwani has got a raw deal and keeping him out of the XI after including him in the squad makes little sense. “I was surprised to see him in the squad but his exclusion from the XI was more surprising,” Prasanna explained.

“It shows you don’t respect your own choice. It also shows that our planning has not been proper. Needless to say, it will dent Hirwani’s confidence,” Prasanna opined.

The legendary off-spinner criticised the exclusion of Sarandeep Singh from the squad. “How can you ignore somebody who got six wickets in his previous Test?”

He also criticised the Indian conception of packing the squad with a variety of spinners, just for the sake for it. The current Indian squad has an off-spinner, a leg-spinner and a left-arm spinner each. “I don’t know why two off-spinners or two left-arm spinners can’t be fielded if they are the better of the lot,” he argued.

Prasanna does not seem to be too optimistic about the current Indian off-spinners. “I don’t rate them at all,” he said when asked what he thought of them, but refused to elaborate after realising he had slipped in a wrong one.

Without going into any detailed comparison, Prasanna is of the opinion that this Australian team is inferior to Bill Lawry’s men in terms of natural talent. The hallmark of Steve Waugh’s bunch is their physical and mental fitness. He also lauded their approach, saying it makes a lot of difference.

   

 
 
58 PLEDGE TO DONATE EYES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Fifty-eight people, including five women, pledged to donate their eyes at the Asian Cricket Foundation-conducated (ACF) camp which started at Eden Gardens today.

The enrolments of today and tomorrow are for players, umpires and club officials. The camp will be open for the public from Friday to Sunday.

The camp is locally organised by CAB, Rotary Club and Anandalok hospital. The ACF will bear all eye-care expenses of donors above 65.

Among those that pledged their eyes today were industrialist Russi Mody, cricket administrators Biswanath Dutt and Jagmohan Dalmiya, former players Sunit Shome, Raju Mukherjee and Moloy Banerjee.

   

 
 
21 TEAMS FOR NATL ROWING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Fourteen men’s teams and seven womens’ will take part in the Dundee 21st Open National rowing championship over the Rabindra Sarobar course from Thursday to Sunday.

Competitions will be held in three events — coxed four, coxless pair and single skull — in both sections.

Services men and Kerala women had swept all titles last year in Pune.

These teams will once again start favourites, though a list of the participants is yet to be announced.

The meet returns to the city after 1993 and Calcutta Rowing Club is the organiser.

PARTICIPATING TEAMS

MEN: Services, Corps of Engineering, Manipur, Haryana, Punjab, Andaman and Nicobar, Kerala, Chandigarh, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh. WOMEN: Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar, Kerala, Chandigarh, Orissa, Karnataka, Bengal.

THE BENGAL TEAMS

MEN: Coxed four: Soumen Sarkar, Shashi Kumar Singh, Jahar Roy, Rakesh Samanta, Dodo Sarkar. Coxless pair: Shakeel Ahmed, Gurpreet Singh Dhillon. Single skull: Rishi Kumar Singh. WOMEN: Coxed four: Rinku Pasari, Aparajita Sen, Sreya Mitra, Olivia Roy, Hindola Roy Chowdhury. Coxless pair: Aparajita Sen, Sreya Mitra. Single skull: Divya Chaddha.

Eastern Open golf

Top players of the country will be seen in action at the Rs 10 lakh Wills Eastern Open golf championship — the fourth and final regional event of the year in the Indian PGA Tour — which tees off at the the Royal Calcutta Golf Club tomorrow.

Honours are so far evenly shared among the top three — Vijay Kumar, Mukesh Kumar and Shiv Prakash and this event is important to decide on the final placings for the season.

The bonus for the number one slot for the season is Rs 7 lakh.

Only Gaurav Ghei will not be seen in action, having not yet recovered from a shoulder injury.

City boy Arjun Atwal will also be in action, as will the Alis, inclusive of former Indian Open champion Firoz.

The winner will get Rs 1,62,000 with the runner-up getting Rs 1,12,000.

E. Railway win 3-0

Eastern Railway today beat Chittaranjan Locomotive Works 3-0 in their BHA league first division group A match.

In group B, BSF, North Bengal, beat Jagrihi 3-0.

Pitrus Ekka scored a brace and Seikh Shiraz completed the tally for Railway, while B. Lakra, M. Kandelna and Y. Guria scored for BSF.

Bagan eves beat Bally

Mohun Bagan ladies carried on their fine run in the IFA women’s league when they beat Bally Gramanchal 5-0.

Rinku Ghosh scored thrice, while Kalpana Sahu and Anjana Kumari completed the tally.

In another match Youth Footballers beat Kasba Samannay 3-0. Mihtu Pal, Gitali Naha and Shilpi De scored.

   

 
 
TEAMMATES SPOIL TENDULKAR’S DAY OUT 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Mumbai, Feb. 27: 
India 176
Australia 49/1

After 15 minutes of the customary post-stumps cooling down, captain Sourav Ganguly was out on the Wankhede turf. And, for five-seven minutes, didn’t take eyes away from the Waugh twins’ nets.

One isn’t sure whether the Indian captain was re-working strategy specific to his opposite number, Steve, and Mark, but the long, hard look he gave was intended to convey: “We’ll quickly get you.”

Before getting to any of the Waugh twins, however, India will have to separate Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer, who remained not out on Day-I of the opening Pepsi Test, the first in a series of three.

Having pushed themselves into a terribly uncomfortable corner, from as early as the opening session itself (62 for four), India must quickly recover the enormous ground lost.

In remembering Sir Don Bradman yesterday, the Australian captain had remarked the “best way” to salute him would be “to give of our best.” Today’s performance would have earned Sir Don’s approval.

Sir Don would also have been delighted with the effort of the one batsman who reminded him of his own self: Sachin Tendulkar, the 21st century Don. Had Sachin got to his 25th century, this afternoon, he would surely have dedicated it to cricket’s greatest icon who passed away early Monday.

Sachin’s classic 76 (139 minutes, 114 balls, 13x4) was packed with ethereal straight drives and rasping hits through cover. On view, too, were other strokes (the cut and pull, for example) as Sachin smacked pace and spin.

Later the innings’ most successful bowler, Shane Warne (four for 47), emphasised more than once that Sachin had absolutely no peers.

In the day’s context, though, Sachin’s essay got overshadowed by the collective disaster. He himself got tempted by Glenn McGrath’s away-from-off line.

Actually, all the Indians were out caught, which is quite a revealing piece of statistics. Barring one opportunity (McGrath dropping Jawagal Srinath off Warne), the Australians put down nothing.

Incidentally, 11 wickets also fell on the opening day of the South Africa Test here, exactly a year ago. The Indians, of course, will be praying the similarity ends there. South Africa won with two days to spare.

Today, the Indian first innings lasted exactly five hours (till an hour beyond tea), after Steve won the toss and “surprised” even his own self by choosing not to bat first.

Day-I, in fact, belonged to the Australian captain.

On a wicket where (despite the early juice for quicks) batting last won’t be much different from walking a minefield, Steve defied tradition. But, then, he is no stereotype.

Few gambles pay off so soon, in the short-term, but unless Australia garner a significant lead, this Steve decision could still prove fatal.

If that was a bold move, Steve again gave convention the skip by introducing Warne a good half-hour before lunch. With his quicks delivering, and even otherwise, tradition demanded the leggie be introduced around ten minutes before lunch.

Well, this too came off as Warne got Sourav with a beauty. Hayden, the lone slips fielder, made no mistake and the Indian captain paid for being tentative.

But, like most teammates, Sourav will get another chance to make amends. The beauty, really, of Test cricket.

Sourav himself feels the Test is far from over. “For everybody, there’s a long way to go,” he told The Telegraph.

Sadagopan Ramesh was out first, adjudged caught behind (the first of four Adam Gilchrist victims) while seeking to hook McGrath. He wasn’t happy with Srinivas Venkatraghavan’s verdict, but even if there was a doubt, the batsman didn’t deserve to get the benefit.

Ramesh, after all, had no business being impulsive when the need of the hour was to play out the spearhead, whose maximum spell (the very first) eventually was of six overs only. Not for the first time, though, McGrath finished with incredible figures: three for 19 off 19 overs.

Vice-captain Rahul Dravid, who totalled 432 in the two Tests against Zimbabwe, fell to a superb awayswinger from Damien Fleming and the impressive Shiv Sundar Das followed almost immediately.

Das who, too, had a profitable series against Zimbabwe (172 runs in three innings) was claimed more by the fielder (Hayden) than Jason Gillespie, and the Bhubaneshwar lad got a reminder that generally it pays only to take the carpet-route.

Sourav went next and it was left to Sachin and V.V.S.Laxman to undertake temporary repairs. Timing beautifully from the first ball, Sachin took most of the pressure off and gone was the sight of the slips-gully cordon being six strong.

At the other end, Laxman, rated very highly by the Australians, produced the temperament required for the situation India were in but, after a 78-minute stay, undid all the good work.

Indeed, Laxman chalked up yet another soft Indian exit by playing McGrath away from the body, thereby providing Ricky Ponting some catching practice. The usually inscrutable coach John Buchanan would have actually smiled for two reasons.

Sachin then departed, much to the anguish of the handsome (around 25,000) turnout and Ajit Agarkar offered a dolly return catch to Warne to record six ducks in-a-row against Australia.

Thereafter there was just brief resistance from Srinath and an extended fightback by Comeback Man Nayan Mongia, who remained unbeaten on 26 in a stay of nearly two hours.

In the Australian essay, Michael Slater failed to make capital of the reprieve given by David Shepherd but, eventually, fell to the same bowler (Agarkar) when his middle stump got uprooted.

Agarkar probably was convinced only the unsettling of the timber would get him a favourable decision.

With the wicket already providing much bite, the onus now is on the nine-Test young Harbhajan Singh and debutant Rahul Sanghvi to deliver. It’s their chance to make the biggest splash of their career.

Also, it’s largely up to them to lessen the thinktank’s discomfort at having omitted Narendra Hirwani.

   

 
 
PATAUDI LIKELY TO REPRESENT BCCI AT SIR DON’S MEMORIAL SERVICES 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Mumbai, Feb. 27: 
Former India captain Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi is likely to represent the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at next month’s memorial service for Sir Donald Bradman, in Adelaide.

“Pataudi, I think, will be the most appropriate choice… Not only did he lead India against Australia both at home and in Australia, his father (Iftikhar Ali Khan, turning out for England) played against the legend during the (1932-33) Bodyline Series…” BCCI president A.C.Muthiah told The Telegraph this afternoon.

Muthiah, of course, said “the decision hadn’t formally been taken” and that he would first “speak” to ‘Tiger’ before making an announcement. That should be done soon and, really, ‘Tiger’ will be an excellent choice.

Had it been the off season, though, the logical choice would have been Sachin Tendulkar. But, with non-stop cricket till the second half of April, Sachin obviously can’t be spared.

The Senior Pataudi, it may be recalled, scored a hundred on debut (Sydney Test) in that infamous series but, owing to a major difference of opinion with his captain (Douglas Jardine), played just one more Test on that tour.

   

 
 
SANDIPAN LOSES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Sandipan Chanda suffered yet another loss in the United Insurance Grandmaters chess tournament in Dhaka today.

According to information received here, Chanda lost his ninth-round match against G.B. Prakash. Prakash won with black pieces in 68 moves.

Chanda stays at the bottom of the table with just two points. Prakash, who has 4.5, plays Uzbek IM Vakhidov Tahir tomorrow. Chanda will be up against Uzbek GM Alexie Barsov (4.5).

Russian GM Alexander Volzhyn stayed sole leader following a draw with local challenger Abdullah Al Rakib (4).

   

 
 
MUMBAI RACES/ SEDONA MAY STRIKE AGAIN 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, Feb. 27: 
A fluent winner in her last start, though promoted, Sedona is expected to repeat the winning performance in the 2,000m All Beauty Plate at the Mumbai races on Wednesday. C. Rajendra partners the Imtiaz Sait-trained four-year-old filly by Don’t Forget Me out of Step It Dear..

SELECTIONS

1.30 pm: Vengeance 1. Silver Nova 2. Rosehill Gardens 3.

2 pm: Super Sword 1. Opener 2. Fidillo 3.

2.30 pm: Helianthus 1. Zeisha 2. Champagne Gold 3.

3 pm: Shahpari 1. Jodhpur Lad 2. Fiery Angel 3.

3.30 pm: Infamous 1. Alice Charms 2. Gold Berg 3.

4 pm: Blue Water 1. Great Magician 2. Majestic Crown 3.

4.30 pm: Neptune’s Girl 1. Knight Moves 2. Zuhaak 3.

5 pm: Scarlet Lake 1. Reaching Out 2. Anacita 3.

5.30 pm: Sedona 1. Yukon 2. Twist Afleet 3.

6 pm: Au Revoir 1. Saytarra 2. Chance 3.

Day’s Best: Helianthus

Double: Super Sword & Shahpari

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ SILVER TOY IMPRESSES 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 27: 
Silver Toy and Anolini were impressive when the following horses worked today:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Silver Toy (Gowli) in 1-59s; (400m) 29s. Good.

1,400m: Storm Centre (Upadhya) in 1-48s; (400m) 31s. Easy. Allosaki (C. Alford) in 1-43s; (400m) 32s. Cancun (Rb) in 1-45s; (400m) 32s. Easy.

1,200m: Flinders (Rb) in 1-27s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Melodeon (C. Alford) in 1-32s; (400m) 32s. Easy. Ascoril (Rb) and Arterial (C. Alford) in 1-26s; (400m) 29s. They were level but former was easy. Madam X (Upadhya) in 1-33s; (400m) 32s. Anolini (Surender) and Alsheim (C. Alford) in 1-26s; (400m) 28s. Former was easily 4 ls better. Prince Obolensky (Yadav) in 1-28s; (400m) 30s. Moved well. Set Aside (Rb) in 1-30s; (400m) 31s. Easy.

1,000m: Nearco Prince (Rb) and Kenilworth (Rabani) in 1-10s; (400m) 29s. Former was too good.

Sand track

1,200m: Princelene (Rb) in 1-15s; (400m) 24s. Was pushed.

800m: Best In Show (Tamang) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Mameena (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 23s. Handy. Alborada (Gowli) in 1-1s; (400m) 29s.

   
 

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