Following are excerpts
On his first impressions of Eden Gardens
Like all Calcuttans, I saw it as a landmark... I was, expectedly, overawed on my first visit to the Eden (during the 1976-77 India versus England Test)... In fact, seeing a full house, I was scared too.
On memories of that first trip
I can’t recall who all, but I did meet the players and remember getting photographed with the then-manager, Ken Barrington. (Adds smiling) Of course, I was introduced to the England captain (Tony Greig)... I doubt if I even reached his knees, though.
On his debut match (at the Eden)
An under-15 game, against Orissa. I got an unbeaten hundred, batting at No.4.
On his first ‘big’ match
The under-19 game versus Pakistan, in 1989-90... It was a one-dayer and I remember being run out.
On his Ranji debut, in the 1989-90 final against Delhi
It was only on match-eve that I got to know I would be playing and, as it turned out, replacing elder brother Snehashish... After the customary workout, I went for my tutions (ahead of the higher secondary exams) and, on returning home, found everybody very quiet. It’s then I learnt that I was in, while my brother was out. For a moment or two, I didn’t know how to react.
On his thoughts as he took the field in the final
Didn’t have an attack of nerves... Fortunately, no matter what the odds, God has given me enough strength not to feel jittery. However, it did take some time to realise I was actually playing a Ranji final. I scored a quick 22.
On having failed in his first Test at the Eden (6 and 0 versus South Africa, late 1996)
I had gone five innings without failing and, so, the failure had to come... Also, I had just come off an injury (sustained in Rajkot), had just come off a period when I was on crutches... Did the “boos” hurt? I did feel bad for a span of time but, then, realised I’ve got to take the good with the bad. As things unfolded, I was reasonably back among the runs in the next Test (Kanpur). Looking back, Gavaskar has been booed (at the Eden). So, too, Azhar... As a professional, one has to handle it.
On whether, going into that Test, he was fit
Hundred per cent... I’m never going to take a chance while playing for India.
On his next Test (at the Eden), against Australia, three years ago
I did well with both bat and ball (65 in the only innings and three wickets in innings No.1)... It’s only on the morning of the Test that Azhar (the captain) said I would have to share the new ball with Srinath as an extra batsman (Laxman in place of quick Harvinder Singh) would be played...
On that superb first spell (7-3-6-1)
But, then, the Eden wicket always does a fair bit in the first session... Specially, on the first morning... Looking back, from a batting point of view, it’s sad I didn’t get a hundred.
On his next appearance, during the summer of 1998 limited overs’ final (versus Kenya)
Think I got 36 and, if I’ve got it right, had only then come off a viral infection.
On his last game, the Asian Championship Test against Pakistan (February 1999)
It wasn’t any more important than any other Test... Yes, there were incidents and, looking back, I think the (run out) decision against Sachin was unfair... Of course, the philosophical approach would be to say such (freak) dismissals are a possibility.
On his own thoughts as he took guard afresh, on that infamous final morning (February 20)
It’s not that I had spent a sleepless night... In the situation we were in, I could only have played the way I do... Bad luck I got out early (24).
[Sourav’s dismissal, off Wasim Akram, confirmed the Indian defeat. Eventually, Pakistan won by 46 runs.]
On that Test ending in front of vacant stands — in effect, an in-camera finish
Fans here are very emotional but while we all love our country and would always like it to win, that’s not possible. One should, then, be ready to accept defeat.
On, this time, leading India in a Test at the Eden
It’s one big honour... That would be the most appropriate way of describing my feelings... Indeed, the morrow will mark the third most memorable moment of my career.
On the earlier “most memorable” moments
(Smiles) The hundred on debut at Lord’s (131 in 1996) and when I was appointed (full-time) India captain in February last year.
On his tips to the younger players who aren’t used to the Eden-ambience
Don’t get overawed. And, most important, treat failure the same way as success. Neither go overboard if you do well, nor retreat into a shell if the going isn’t good. In the profession we are in, public scrutiny in any case is bound to be intense. More so at a venue such as the Eden.
Also, it’s worth remembering nobody scores a perfect-10 each time. Nobody has and nobody will, either
Finally, on the grounds (besides the Eden) which hold special significance
Lord’s, certainly, and the MCG. I’ve got a Test hundred at Lord’s and a one-day hundred (exactly 100 versus Australia, in early 2000) at the MCG. Hope I now get a hundred at the Eden!
Icon he is, not just in Australia and most cricket-playing nations, but in a corner not far from Calcutta as well: Udayan, home for children of those afflicted by leprosy, in Barrackpore.
It was an interview in these columns during the last India-Australia Test at the Eden, exactly three years ago, that began Steve’s amazing relationship with Udayan.
In response to a charities’-specific question, Steve, then the vice-captain, had answered: “I’ve been doing my bit... Contributing to charity-auctions, visiting kids who’ve been deprived. All sportsmen are actually in a good position to help those less fortunate.”
Among others, this Steve reply was noticed by the tireless Shamlu Dudeja, who has done much to draw just about everybody’s attention to Udayan. “One note and one call later” Steve was off to Udayan.
It helped that the Test didn’t go the distance, with India winning by an innings and 219 runs.
On Friday, less than 48 hours before the start of the second Test, Steve made his fourth Udayan visit — and the second to Nivedita House, the girls’ wing there.
Later in the evening, at a Calcutta Foundation dinner (where the spread was both Indian and Mongolian), Steve had one word to describe his experience: “Great.”
Inspired by Steve, twin brother Mark has also been involved with Udayan. Specifically, he is sponsoring a girl-inmate (Aloka Nayek) and he, too, made the Friday trip. As, by the way, did Justin Langer.
“I didn’t have to prompt Mark.. The decision has been his though, obviously, my own involvement (with Udayan) made it easier for him,” Steve told The Telegraph.
Asked whether his association with such ventures gave him “inner strength” to overcome the tougher on-field moments, Steve broke into that trademark grin and said: “Don’t really know... This involvement just makes me feel good, I’m in it because I wanted to be...”
But should cricketers, specially now when the game itself is coming out of a most damaging crisis, be more visibly involved with the Udayans?
“Only if the desire comes from within... It shouldn’t be because it has to be done. But, yes, I accept sportspersons do have a responsibility. However, it must be left to the individual to decide just what he/she wishes to do.”
Incidentally, from last year, Steve has been associated with Camp Quality, a set-up which organises regular week-long camps for cancer-stricken kids in Australia. As with Udayan, Steve is a Camp Quality patron.
Having already seen the ‘birth’ of a girls’ wing, Steve is “very keen” that Udayan, which started exclusively for boys, now has an exclusive unit for girls.
The idea is to accommodate 250 girls, a jump from the 50 who today find shelter in Nivedita House. Owing to space constraints this unit, though, will have to be outside Udayan.
It’s possible the state government will be approached for land, that too pretty soon.
Of course, what should materialise earlier — and within Udayan itself — is a primary school, for which Japan’s city-based consul general, Ryuzo Kikuchi, has organised funding from Tokyo.
Thanks to a bit of red-tape, however, the Rs 30-lakh grant still hasn’t reached Udayan. The sooner this tape is ‘cut’ the quicker will many underprivileged children smile.
It’s a mix of individual and collective pressure. Add to that the home turf pressure as well. The demands on Sourav, the batsman and captain, have never been greater.
Of course, he is aware of just how the 2001 cookie has crumbled —- certainly didn’t make a pretty sight in the first match of this three-Test Pepsi series, in Mumbai. Equally, contrary to whispers in some quarters, the captain is focussed.
There have been many lessons to learn from the Mumbai wipe-out, in under three days. No.1 being it will never pay to allow the hottest team recover from 99 for five. Also, that batting first, four sessions must be seen through, not less than even three.Yet another lesson is that much of the team’s energy, specially that of the captain, shouldn’t be wasted in worrying about the wicket. Surely, not at home.
Thankfully, what is on offer at the Eden doesn’t have that enigmatic look.
Nothing like winning, but realistically (and tactically), it would make sense to first halt the Australians’ run (a record-smashing 16 victories in succession) and, then, go for the equaliser on an underprepared track at the Chepauk.
It’s significant that two of the four bowlers in the Indian XI —- Venkatesh Prasad and Venkatapathi Raju —- will be making a comeback, while the collective experience of the other two (Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan) is just 11 Tests.
Strictly speaking, it’s a comeback for the left-arm Zaheer as well: He wasn’t fielded in Mumbai.
Prasad played in Sydney, 14 months ago, while Raju didn’t get a look-in after the Bangalore Test on Australia’s 1997-98 India tour.
In keeping with the general assessment, both Sourav and Steve Waugh felt the wicket (overseen by Prabir Mukherjee) was “good.”
Still, the track has plenty of ‘carry’ on the first day and the opening session can be nightmarish. That’s when the ball does everything save talk.
The Australians learnt this in their last Test here (three years ago), never recovering from the opening spells of Jawagal Srinath and Sourav.
Pakistan, too, were in the dumps on Day-I, a shade over two years ago. It’s another matter that Shoaib Akhtar quickly neutralised India’s advantage. Pakistan went on to win, on the fifth morning, with the Test having an unprecedented in-camera finish.
Srinath, currently nursing a fracture, had emerged the Man of the Match both against Australia and Pakistan (jointly with Saeed Anwar). Only underlines just how much the spearhead will be missed.
But Srinath’s absence notwithstanding, if Sourav can exercise the option, he may still invite Australia to have first strike. Steve, in any case, is expected to put India in —- assuming the coin rolls his way.
Till this evening, however, the Australians were undecided on whether to retain Damien Fleming, pick Michael Kasprowicz instead or even go for the Colin Miller option.
The traditional Eden ‘carry’ could tempt Steve and coach John Buchanan to give Kasprowicz his first Test cap in almost 15 months, but it’s a close-call.
There was some confusion over Michael Slater, but it has been clarified that Match Referee Cammie Smith has only (belatedly) awarded him a one-match suspended sentence.
For somebody who “lives and dies” by aggression, Slater has thus far only targeted umpire Srinivas Venkatraghavan and Rahul Dravid, both in Mumbai. A proper channelling of Slater’s aggression is long overdue.
If the opener is to make a point, it’s now. And, perhaps, he can draw inspiration from fellow-opener Matthew Hayden’s classic in the first Test.
Australia have drawn much comfort from Ricky Ponting’s hundred-in-each-innings performance versus Board President’s XI, just a few days ago. As also Mark Waugh’s fine innings against the same opposition.
Earlier this week, the Australians did seem concerned about Adam ‘Breathtaking’ Gilchrist, but he has recovered from a muscle injury and will remain a top threat till the tweakers prevent him from milking them against the spin.
Threat No.1, though, still is the captain himself. India were lucky to get Steve early, in Mumbai, but to keep this series alive, a repeat is a must.
In the home camp, Rahul Dravid isn’t exactly hundred per cent fit —— laid low by an attack of tonsillitis —— but will figure in the XI.
“The fever isn’t there and I’m much better. A little weak, though,” Dravid, who skipped nets, told The Telegraph late this evening.
Dravid, it is understood, will continue to bat at No.3.
Very much the centre of attention, like Sourav, is Sachin Tendulkar. The Eden is yet to see a Test hundred from this 21st Century Don but, as he himself remarked the other day, if destiny wills it he won’t be deprived.
Like it or not, just how challenging India’s effort is will depend on Sachin. It’s time, though, for the others to lend him (and India) a significant hand instead of guest appearances.
At the top of the order, specifically, Sadagopan Ramesh has to quickly cut out playing away from the body; Shiv Sundar Das must blend caution with aggression.
No opportunity, both for those staging a return and the ones seeking to cement their place, can hold out more rewards. But, as always against teams of pedigree, the battle will be as much in the mind as one of skill.
Sure, it’s a matter of keeping faith. But...
INDIA: Sadagopan Ramesh, Shiv Sundar Das, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Nayan Mongia, Venkatapathi Raju, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad.
AUSTRALIA (likely): Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater, Justin Langer, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath.
Umpires: Peter Willey and S.K. Bansal.
Match Referee: Cammie Smith.
Hours of play: 9.30-11.30 am; 12.10-2.10 pm; 2.30-4.30 pm.
The opener had got away with a warning from the Match Referee for his on-field confrontation with umpire Srinivas Venkatraghavan and Rahul Dravid after an appeal for a catch was turned down by third umpire Narendra Menon during the second innings of the Mumbai Test.
Smith’s latest action follows certain comments made by Slater on Australian radio.
“To make a comment on any previous decision by the Match Referee is a breach of the ICC’s Code of Conduct. By doing so on Australian radio, he has transgressed the Code,” Smith told The Telegraph today.
“The sentence means that if Slater transgresses or commits any offence during the six months, the one-Test ban will be imposed,” the Match Referee added.
According to Clause 6 of the Code: “Players and/or Team Officials shall not disclose or publicly comment upon any alleged or actual breach of this Code, whether by themselves or any other person to whom the Code applies, or upon any hearing, report or decision arising from such an alleged or proven breach.”
Slater, who felt Dravid should have taken his word and walked off, told a Sydney radio channel a few days ago: “It just looks so much worse on TV than it actually was and they chose to play it and play it and just blow the whole thing up. My belief on this Rahul Dravid catch — and one I did actually take — is that it has been totally blown out of proportion.
“If I had said things in a very harsh manner and been swearing at the umpire or the batsman or whatever, I would have been on report and I would have been fined and all the rest of it, and that didn’t happen,” he added.
The players, however, had reconciled their differences in the dressing room later.
The Australians preferred not to react to the Match Referee’s decision.
“There’s no point talking on the issue. As far as we are concerned, the chapter is closed,” Steve Waugh said.
Steve had earlier criticised Slater for his on-field behaviour saying the batsman went “over the top”.
“The incident didn’t present a good image and we all realise that... Given another chance, I’m sure he wouldn’t react the same way.”
There was some confusion at the Eden Gardens this morning with CAB president and former ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya yesterday issuing a statement at a press conference that Slater had been banned from the Calcutta Test in addition to a suspended suspension and a fine.
The Aussies, who had no knowledge of Dalmiya’s statement, were taken by surprise after hearing it this morning.
Media manager Bryan Murgatroyd explained that he had no knowledge of any ban being imposed on Slater for the second Test.
Slater, for his part, practised with the squad and looked all set to retain his place in the team. After the usual warming up session, he also had a long stint at nets.
What obviously was a major communication gap between Dalmiya and Smith was set right in the afternoon, with the CAB president issuing a clarification, explaining the true nature of the penalty.
But the electronic scoreboard may not be able to provide a clear vision to the spectators at the ground. “There seems to be a problem with some of the dots that form the alphabets on the scoreboard,” informed CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
He also confirmed that the sophisticated close-circuit TV cameras for identifying the trouble makers at the ground will be in operation from Day I of the Test. “The installation is on and should be ready by tomorrow morning. The police will be in charge of its operation,” Dalmiya said.
Meanwhile, the eye donors will be accommodated on the international F block of the stadium. A special staircase has been erected for them. Buses will ply between Metro cinema and the entrance of the F block every 15 minutes to pick up the donors. They will be presented a badge and a cap by a senior CAB functionary on arrival.
The CAB is also not charging any stall rent from owners who will sell cold drinks and mineral water.
If yesterday’s draws by East Bengal and FC Kochin had provided Mohun Bagan with the wonderful opportunity of creeping up real close on the National League’s top two teams, they messed it all up at the Salt Lake Stadium this afternoon.
Leading Churchill Brothers 2-0 in a game they were dominating, Mohun Bagan saw the visitors pull one back and then draw level in the last minute of injury-time.
It left them where they were on the ladder — on the third rung, four points adrift of FC Kochin and five behind East Bengal.
The defending champions, looking to avenge a 0-2 loss in Margao, were well on their way with R.C. Prakash getting the early goal and Basudeb Mondal adding another in the second half.
Prakash, the leading goal-getter in the League, showed fine football sense when he timed his run from the ‘wall’ to perfection as he chased a Basudeb Mondal free-kick in the 12th minute and side-volleyed into the net before burly defender Usmanu Hussaini could react.
Basudeb was to get a goal for himself following a fluent move 17 minutes after the breather.
James Singh, who made some lovely runs down the left today, sent in a curling cross from the goalline. Prakash, running in at the far end, put the defence on the wrong foot by not heading goalwards himself and, instead, finding the unmarked Basudeb at the goalmouth. Goalkeeper Edward Ansah could only watch in dismay as Basudeb’s right-footed grounder went in at the left post.
Churchill came back less than a couple of minutes later, Francis Silveira making good use of a dithering defence to score their first goal.
There was complete breakdown in communications in the Mohun Bagan defence as Hussain Mustafi, playing in an unaccustomed position at left-back, and stoppers Amauri and M. Suresh, were caught in two minds and goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar timed his charge wrong. He hadn’t reached his ‘destination’ when Silveira chipped over him and into an untenanted goal.
By now, Churchill were putting everything into attack with Hussaini coming up deep into Mohun Bagan territory time and again. However, with the game into injury-time, the 25,000 fans who had turned up were beginning celebrations.
It was then that Churchill struck.
They would have scored had Ghosh Dastidar not showed great reflexes to keep out an Andre Aquena shot but, off the resultant corner, Jose Colaco dealt Mohun Bagan the telling blow.
Hussaini got a head to the corner and even as the ball hovered tantalisingly just beyond the six-yard box, Colaco back-volleyed it into the net.
The events were almost a replay of the those that happened when the teams met last year in at the same venue. Hussaini had then scored in injury-time to deny Mohun Bagan a win.
Though it did get bad-tempered at times, it was an entertaining match between teams packed with players who had good touch and could hold the ball. With Barreto at his best, and several others having a very good match, it was still a game that Mohun Bagan should have sewn up but for poor marksmanship and some good goalkeeping from Ansah.
MOHUN BAGAN: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Dulal Biswas, Amauri, M. Suresh, Hussain Mustafi; Jayanta Sen (R.P. Singh, 76th), Basudeb Mondal, Debjit Ghosh, James Singh; Jose Ramirez Barreto, R.C. Prakash.
CHIRCHILL BROTHERS: Edward Ansah; Denzil Ferrao (Inacio Afonso, 85th), Usmanu Hussaini, Mahesh Gowli, Mir Hyder Farooq; Roque Barreto (Kaustav Ghosh, 67th), Edson de Bastro (Ajay Singh, 62nd), Noel Wilson, Jose Colaco; Francis Silveira, Andre Requena.
Referee: Krishan Avatar.
St Xavier’s College 246/’ 7 in 45 ovs (Sarbojit Das 91; Partha Das 4/38). Ashutosh College 215 in 44 ovs. (Somnath Gayen 47; Sumit Panda 3/29). St Xavier’s College won by 31 runs.
Chittaranjan College 195 (J. Biswas 55, S. Agarwal 3/32, M. Sen 3/33). Prafulla Chandra College 199/ 5 (S. Agarwal 69). Prafulla Chandra won by 5 wkts.
1.30 pm: Shanillo 1. Nuclear Power 2. Land Lady 3.
2 pm: White Lie 1. Special Selection 2. Top’m All 3.
2.30 pm: Khim 1. Track Emotions 2. Mahek 3.
3 pm: Hi Fidelity 1. Name Of Love 2. Crimson Rage 3.
3.45 pm: Isle Of Spice 1. Soviet Fire 2. Money Madness 3.
4.15 pm: Thanks A Lot 1. Eka 2. Stardotcom 3.
4.45 pm: Zephyr Bay 1. Golden Goal 2. Al Dente 3.
5.30 pm: Gorgeous Princess 1. Foretell 2. National Velvet 3.
6 pm: Thunder Clap 1. Imperial Falcon 2. Act Of Trust 3.
Day’s Best: Thanks A Lot
Double: Hi Fidelity & Isle Of Spice
1. Hiriyur Plate, Div-II 1,200m (1-2-3) Magic Mantra (Kader) 1 Whatmore 2 Pride Fisher 3. Won by: SH; 7-1/4; (1-16.2). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 14; 11; 91; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 1,058. Fav: Whatmore (2).
2. Doddaballapur Plate 1,200m: (13-14-6) Roman Flame (Shafiq) 1; Zulia’s 2; Emerald Forest 3. Won by: 4; 3/4; (1-16.9). Tote: Win Rs 81; Place: 25; 26; 81; Quinella: 240; Tanala: 10,808. Fav: Make No Mistake (15).
3. Hiriyur Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (8-9-3) Meraladlaa (Rakesh) 1; Red Rosie 2; Aveste 3. Not run: Special Request (5). Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; (1-16.1). Tote: Win Rs 158; Place: 25; 12; 16; Quinella: 131; Tanala: 2,018. Fav: Red Rosie (9).
4. C. B. Ponnappa Memorial Plate 1,800m: (8-5-3) Forest Ranger (Gallagher) 1 Arduous 2; Appleby 3. Won by: SH; 3-3/4; (1-55.4). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 14; 35; 13; Quinella: 324; Tanala: 1,042. Fav: Appleby (3).
5. Nanoli Stud Bangalore Juvenile Million 1,400m: (4-6-2) Royal Gladiator (M. Narredu) 1; Ansbach (Kader) 2; Star Of Gaiety (Shakti) 3. Won by: 1; 3; (1-27). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 16; 14; 31; Quinella: 147; Tanala: 1,798. Fav: Royal Liberator (1).
6. Bull Temple Cup 1,600m: (6-3-2) Arrakis (Harish) 1; Antwerp 2; Concur 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 1-3/4; (1-39.7). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 19; 14; 14; Quinella: 96; Tanala: 411. Fav: Concur (2).
7. Chatrapathi Cup 1,400m: (12-11-10) Way To The Stars (Gallagher) 1; Alphabetic 2 Red Quartz 3. Not run: So Thrilled (3) & Butter Sponge (14). Won by: 2-1/2; 2-1/4; (1-27.8). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 14; 29; 47; Quinella: 151; Ta-nala: 4,364. Fav: Way To The Stars (12).
8. Ilkal Plate 1,100m: (5-12-1) Three Coins (S. Narredu) 1; Hayate 2; Time Of War 3. Won by: 3-1/2; Hd; (1-9.6). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 12; 17; 20; Quinella: 45; Tanala: 252. Fav: Three Coins (5).
Jackpot: Rs 6,821; (C) R 1,066.
Treble: (i) Rs 2,131; (ii) Rs 422.
1. Subashnagar Cup, Div-II 1,600m: (9-7-1) Zee Knight (Ramesh) 1; Solo Spirit 2; Dusty Street 3. Won by: 1/2; 2; (1-43.4). Win Rs 295; (P) 50; 17; 12; (F) 1,357; (Q) 271; (T) 2,248 & 712. Fav: Dusty Street (1).
2. Holenarasipur Plate 1,100m: (2-7-10) Peter Pepper (Marshall) 1; Arroganto 2; Top The Star 3. Won by: 5; 2-3/4; (1-9.1). Win Rs 26; (P) 11; 13; 13; (F) 36; (Q) 21; (T) 43 & 22. Fav: Peter Pepper (2).
3. Kabini Plate, Div-II 1,800m: (7-8-5) Predominate (Appu) 1; Young Lust 2; Emmenbrucke 3. Not run: Fast Vision (4) & Classic Liason (6). Won by: 1-1/4; 4-1/2; (1-57.4). Win Rs 27; (P) 15; 19; (F) 35; (Q) 29; (T) 83 & 45.Fav: Predominate (7).
Treble: (i) Rs 281; (ii) Rs 1,081.
4. Subashnagar Cup, Div-I 1,600m: (2-8-6) Caesarr (Shakti) 1; Lake Baikal 2; Splendid Ally 3. Won by: 4-1/2; Hd; (144.6). Win Rs 34; (P) 15; 38; 14; (F) 287; (Q) 236; (T) 664 & 138. Fav: Splendid Ally (6).
5. Dharmasthala Plate 1,200m: (2-5-8) Measure By Measure (Shakti) 1; Ratn 2; Cliff Side 3. Won by: 1-1/4; Nk; (1-17). (W) Rs 22; (P) 14; 29; 119; (F) 118; (Q) 82; (T) 1,832 & 1,510. Fav: Measure By Measure (2).
6. Arundhati Cup 1,200m: (6-5-7) Alylady (Appu) 1; Avocation 2; Financer 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-14.8). Win Rs 29; (P) 14; 14; 24; (F) 39; (Q) 17; (T) 130 & 107. Fav: Avocation (5).
7. Longchamp Plate 1,400m: (2-4-6) Flash First (Prakash 1; Allocate 2; Don King 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 6-1/4; (1-27.9). Win Rs 57; (P) 22; 23; 13; (F) 253; (Q) 149; (T) 306 & 133. Fav: Don King (6).
8. B. P. Shivan Memorial Plate 1,200m: (10-1-4) Sounds Sweet (Prakash) 1; Astounding Bay 2; Bank Of Promise 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3; (1-15.6). Win Rs 58; Place: 20; 19; 35; (F) 255; (Q) 179; (T) 3,481 & 1,607. Fav: Auric (13).
9. Kabini Plate, Div-I 1,800m: (4-2-5) Tattoo (S. Narredu) 1; London Bells 2; Nobody’s Angel 3. Won by: Nk; SH; (1-57.7). Win Rs 38; (P) 16; 103; 28; (F) 1,261; (Q) 937; (T) 10,277 & 2,202. Fav: Forest Emperor (6).
Jackpot: Rs 7,899; (C) Rs 445.
Mini jackpot: Rs 2,723.
Treble: (i) Rs 281; (ii) Rs 1,081.
Racing on the day, too, had its share of the ugliness, but things got diluted by the dominance of the favourites. However, each of the four, who carried the public purse to victory, was delicately poised to deliver in one way or the other. If Silver Toy just about made it in the 2,000m Bangalore Turf Club Cup, Aherlow ran all over the course before he could claim the Adelina Handicap.
Again, in The Metropolitan, it was the unbalancing-act of Mark Reuben on Clarice Cliff which helped Annalee stretch her winning streak to seven. Finally, one needs courage to trust the unperformed pairings of Crimson King and jockey B. Gurang to land the gamble of the year which witnessed the odds of the six-year-old crashing in the ‘ring’ from 7’s down to 6-4. The Daniel David trainee won virtually from start to finish.
The 2,000m was a tailor-made trip for the Darius Byramji-traine Silver Toy. The grey filly had been knocking at the door and her bottled-up third, against Crucible and Gambino, had served notice of her prowess as she had covered good ground in the final stretch. Robert Gowli rode a copybook race, leaving her alone, at the wrong end of the field, for a major part of the journey.
Aherlow won by a shade under four lengths from her chief rival, Anokato, in spite of taking the home turn far from smoothly. Lying a handy fourth till approaching the home turn, there was no reason for Cristopher Alford, partnering the Be Fresh Misty Eyes filly, of breaking into the lead with such urgency. As a result, this nearly broke the strides of the Vijay Singh-trainee. Aherlow was under pressure from that point, thus drifting out of a straightcourse while passing the distance post.
Annalee was virtually gifted The Metropolitan, thus raking off a debate whether Mark Reuben’s challenge on Clarice Cliff was a genuine effort. Reuben’s riding posture over the last 100m of the race had left many an eyebrow raised as he was observed to be hanging forward, trying to balance himself on the well-backed Bharath Singh’s trainee who was lugging in for a greater part of the 1,200m trip. The stipendiary stewards thought the act of the jockey to be accidental and many in the racing circle believed the short-head defeat could not have been manoeuvred, so he was given the benefit of grave doubt instead of punishment.
Others who made to the winners’ enclosure, but not at favourable odds, were Nearco Prince in the opener, the Play Boy Handicap, and Russian Czar in the 1,400m Navy Cup. While Nearco Prince cashed in on his morning track form, the Czar’s last run over a 1,200m sprint was promising enough for him to walk away with the trophy. The only thing against the 4-1 from Richard Alford’s yard was his jockey apprentice, Rutherford Alford — the four-year-old by Tecorno out of Kokomo was expected to be more comfortable if ridden from the front. The apprentice, however, defied all odds as he took a smart jump-out in a big field of 14 runners and had the Czar positioned behind the leader Software till the half-way mark. Shooting into the lead thereafter, he won untroubled.