Aussies down under at the Eden
We have now replied to our critics: Sourav
One of the greatest Tests, is the unanimous verdic
Prasad, Raju axed; India pack squad with four spinners
Play it safe in Chennai: Greig
‘Great day for Test cricket’
Randhawa among 1st round leaders
Muslim Inst., Kalighat go down
Bangalore Races/ Mumbai Dancer looks best
Mumbai Races/ Green Paradise surprises

 
 
AUSSIES DOWN UNDER AT THE EDEN 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
Australia 445, 212
India 171, 657/7 decl.
MoM: Laxman

The bubbly couldn’t have tasted better than it did at the Eden this afternoon.

Sachin Tendulkar. Captain Sourav Ganguly and, then, vice-captain Rahul Dravid. Nobody quite wanted to miss the perfect finish to a most incredible Test.

“Mark my words, this will be the turning point for Indian cricket,” insisted former captain Ravi Shastri, echoing a common enough sentiment on a great day.

At the receiving end on the first two-and-a-half days (“On the mat,” as coach John Wright put it), the Indians posted a recovery that has absolutely no parallel.

While England have, not once but twice (1894 and 1981), beaten Australia after having been forced to follow-on, their first innings’ arrears was less than 274. Also, England’s victory-margins (11 and nine) surely weren’t as overwhelming as India’s.

No other team has made a comeback on similar lines in any of the 1535 Tests so far.

While most will largely talk of V.V.S.Laxman’s record-busting 281, Harbhajan Singh’s 13-wicket haul and Rahul Dravid’s determined 180, what could go unnoticed is one small Sourav move.

It concerns Sachin.

Of course, Sourav’s move to introduce Sachin for the first time in the Mumbai Test, last month, had backfired.

As a consequence, the captain took the rap for what was a misplaced impulsive decision. He called it “instinctive,” but that had few takers as Australia were allowed a win inside three days.

At the Eden, on the final day of the second Pepsi Test today, the Sachin-move paid the biggest dividend of the season. Actually, it’s Sachin himself who spoke to Sourav about introducing him.

The captain promptly agreed.

“I said I’ve got this gut feeling it will be my day... There are times, after all, when one gets that feeling. Well, Sourav listened and the rest is...” an obviously happy Sachin told The Telegraph, soon after India’s momentous 171-run victory.

Brought into the game just before tea, Sachin’s crippling first spell of mixed spin earned three wickets —— Adam Gilchrist, top-scorer Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne.

It made Australia’s tailspin ride even more uncomfortable, brought India that much closer to a win which even Sourav hadn’t thought would be possible midway into the Test.

There have, in the past, been occasions when Sachin has looked our best spinner. This afternoon, he certainly gave Harbhajan stiff competition.

That’s saying quite a bit, as Harbhajan finished with the best figures in any India versus Australia Test at the Eden.

Harbhajan, who often got exceptional purchase, had one phenomenal spell of 30 overs, which began before lunch and ended after tea. It’s then that he trapped five of his six second innings victims.

The Australians may have reservations about a couple of S.K.Bansal decisions, but the fact is the Mark Waughs weren’t as sure-footed as they ought to have been. Even Steve Waugh first went forward, then back, and paid the price.

Fortunately, India wasn’t heavily penalised by the Steve let-off, courtesy Sourav, when on five. Later, Sourav could smile and say: “Yeah, for a moment I did think the miss will be costly.”

Earlier even Matthew Hayden, who struck fifties in both innings, was dropped (on six) by Venkatesh Prasad who expected the ball to come to him instead of attempting to reach it.

Briefly, that did prove costly, but all’s well that ends well. Still, the lapses didn’t go unnoticed and Wright emphasised: “We’ve got to improve... More important, keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

What, eventually, made the biggest difference was the mammoth 376-run partnership for the fifth-wicket, between Laxman and Dravid, and it’s Wright who was instrumental in switching their slots: Three to six and vice-versa.

India began the day 315 ahead and Sourav only declared after close to an hour. By then, both overnighters (Laxman and Dravid) had departed, playing for the team and not themselves.

Nayan Mongia, too, got out but Zaheer Khan produced a cameo and Harbhajan was plucky during his 11-minute stay.

Few expected Australia to go for the 384 target (minimum of 75 overs), but Michael Slater’s belligerance did start a guessing game.

Slater, though, became Harbhajan’s first victim, beaten both by the turn and bounce. And, if Slater set a hot pace, striking the ball very fluently from the first delivery was ‘replacement’ Justin Langer.

But Langer fell going for an unconventional sweep, taken superbly by Sadagopan Ramesh, and while Hayden and Steve did have a partnership of substance, the captain’s exit started the slide which only stopped with Glenn McGrath’s dismissal.

Jason Gillespie (promoted to No.8) and Michael Kasprowicz, to an extent, showed the temperament which should have been seen in the established batsmen, but the ask was simply too stiff.

After all, almost 25 overs remained for the last two wickets to play out.

As it turned out, Sourav’s policy of attacking relentlessly —- well, he could afford to —— did get the desired results. At times, there were as many as eight fielders (including the wicketkeeper) close-in.

It became a mind game and, having got accustomed to early finishes, the Australians were clearly found wanting.

Steve was dead right when, even before landing in India, he talked about “strong characters” being required for the tour.

The Sourav moves, and the Indians’ general enthusiasm apart, a big help was the emotional support from the around 75,000 fans.

It makes a difference.

Incidentally, Mongia’s courageous return (despite a broken nose) came for much appreciation. He could have remained in the dressing room, but that’s not what the firm of Sourav&Wright encourages.

   

 
 
WE HAVE NOW REPLIED TO OUR CRITICS: SOURAV 
 
 
BY ATREYO MUKHOPADHYAY
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
Seldom do men who lead a bunch of miracle-performers look and sound as disenchanted as Sourav Ganguly did at the post-match media conference after the magical victory over Australia at Eden Gardens.

Sure, he did not have much steam left in him after five unusually absorbing days of high-voltage cricket. Also, he had just completed a team-selection meeting and had to catch the flight to Chennai.

Having proved a point on the field, he was eager to make a few more.

“It’s shameful when you lose one Test match and are taken apart by your own countrymen. You really feel sorry,” he said with an obvious reference to the Mumbai Test where India lost inside three days.

“But this game is a great leveller. That we have won is a great answer to everybody who had written us off after just one loss. There is no better way of answering critics than by winning a Test... after coming back from where we did,” the skipper said.

He went on to add that there were lessons for everybody — two, most importantly. “First, you never give up. Then, you never write anybody off.”

He explained he didn’t look particularly ecstatic after the historic win because the series had just been levelled. “We have just won a Test and only after winning in Chennai can we pocket the series.”

Coach John Wright echoed similar thoughts. “The big thing from here is to keep it up... keep our feet firmly on the ground and not get carried away with this victory.

“At this level, you have to work very, very hard and keep working even harder and we’ve found a very good example here. I think the boys will enjoy today and get back to work tomorrow,” said the New Zealander.

Coming back to one of the most memorable day of Test cricket, Sourav clarified his priority was to reach a position from where the team could not lose. “The idea was to have enough runs on the board so that we could have enough men close-in when they batted, rather than having them on the fence.”

He emphasised that losing a few overs in the process wouldn’t have made much difference. “We needed to be safe. If we could not get them out in 75 overs, five more wouldn’t have been much different.”

The skipper disclosed there was no specific target when India batted a second time, trailing by 274 runs. “We didn’t think of anything. The idea was to just go out and bat, and see where we could take this game to. It was two amazing knocks which got us to this position.” He also lauded Harbhajan Singh, saying he has been bowling well since the first Test.

Sourav said he started thinking about a win only after seeing the back of Steve Waugh right after the tea break.

‘One of the best innings’

The man who had made a heroic contribution — in the Aussie first innings — in this match full of heroics, Steve was all praise for V.V.S. Laxman who made an epic 281. “It’s certainly one of the greatest innings in Test cricket and he never looked like getting out.”

He dismissed the idea that complacency had crept in to the dressing-room after the unprecedented 16-Test victory march. Also, he refused to accept his team had crumbled under pressure. “Of the 16 we won, we were under pressure on a few occasions. So, it was not pressure, just a couple of poor hours.”

BCCI booty

The BCCI has announced cash awards to V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh, adds PTI from Chennai.

Laxman, who broke Sunil Gavaskar’s 18-year old record with a superb 281, surpassing the earlier best of 236, would be awarded Rs.3 lakh, A.C. Muthiah, president, BCCI, said here today.

Dravid will be richer by Rs.1.50 lakh.The 20-year-old Punjab bowler, Harbhajan would be awarded Rs. 2 lakh for his achievement, Muthiah said.    


 
 
ONE OF THE GREATEST TESTS, IS THE UNANIMOUS VERDIC 
 
 
BY ANANYA DAS GUPTA AND NILESH BHATTACHARYA
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
The post-tea collapse happened again today and this time Eden Gardens made it to the pages of history.

For the third time in five days, seven wickets went crashing in the final session and India became the third team ever to win a Test after following on. Also, they brought the Aussies down to earth after their unprecedented victory run of 16 Test matches.

Yet to recover from the ecstasy of witnessing history, some of the former stars shared their thoughts with The Telegraph.

PETER WILLEY: Not the greatest, but definitely one of the best Test matches I’ve seen. This is Test cricket. What a match!

CHANDU BORDE: Absolutely amazing. It’s hard to say if I have ever seen such a breathtaking match. Absolutely stupendous. India came in their elements for the first time and see the result! Laxman, Dravid and, above all, Harbhajan made this match a memorable one for India and their efforts left an indelible mark in the history of the game as a whole.

MADANLAL: It was the best Test match I have ever seen. I can’t remember any other instance where a team has followed on and won so convincingly. Harbhajan and Laxman should get equal credit for the victory. To me, the two should have shared the Man-of-the-Match award.

ASHOK MALHOTRA: The fluctuating moods of the match had been so overpowering and captivating that I felt like dreaming. Test matches should be like this — full of incidents. Every minute you keep guessing what will happen next. Laxman played an unforgettable innings and India fought back splendidly to halt Australia’s winning march. The Eden today witnessed a red-letter day in cricket history.

ARUN LAL: I couldn’t ever believe it and this is by far the best Test match I have seen. It was a miracle and it can’t be better than this. After Day 2, people stopped asking me for fourth-day tickets and it feels really good to be an Indian today.

I have seen the Ian Botham match on TV, where England beat Australia after following on, but there can’t be anything like this. I started having an inkling of it when we took lunch without losing a wicket on the fourth morning but it’s still unbelievable.

SANJAY MANJREKAR: What to say? The fact that such an incident happened just for the third time in history, makes it special. Until after tea, I never thought India were going to win. The greatest Test match I’ve ever seen.

MANINDER SINGH: India played exceptionally well and now they should just concentrate on playing well. They should not think about what kind of pitch they are getting and play their normal game. This was easily the best match I have ever seen.

Tony GREIG

It was an astonishing game. There have been 1535 Test matches played and this kind of a turnaround has happened only twice before. V.V.S. Laxman’s innings was one of the best batting performances I have ever seen. I think Steve Waugh was absolutely right when he said that batting was the best part of the game. It was batting which won India the game.

   

 
 
PRASAD, RAJU AXED; INDIA PACK SQUAD WITH FOUR SPINNERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
India go in to the Pepsi series decider with a clear indication of what kind of surface they want in Chennai.

The 14-man squad is packed with four spinners — Harbhajan Singh, Sarandeep Singh, Sairaj Bahutule and Nilesh Kulkarni. While Kulkarni stages a comeback, Bahutule is yet to play in a Test match.

Ajit Agarkar was not named in the squad as he is yet to recover from a bout of viral fever.

Axed from the Eden Test XIV are Venkatapathi Raju, Venkatesh Prasad and Ashish Nehra. Back in the squad is Jawagal Srinath but he will be replaced by Debashish Mohanty if he fails to prove his fitness.

Srinath was unavailable for the Eden Test after sustaining a finger fracture in the first Test in Mumbai. “He can bowl, but there is a question mark over his batting and fielding,” informed BCCI secretary J.Y. Lele.

Another conditional inclusion is Nayan Mongia, who fractured his nose but came back to keep wickets in the final session after being hurt in the second.

Mongia’s place will go to Mumbai skipper Samir Dighe if he does not recover in time. Delhi’s Vijay Dahiya was not considered because he has a broken finger, selectors informed.

Retaining his slot was opener Sadgopan Ramesh, who has not looked perfectly comfortable against the Australian seamers. “He is capable of getting runs and has done that in the past, that’s why he was retained,” said chief selector Chandu Borde.

Announcing the team after the selection committee meeting, Borde said they wanted to follow a “horse for courses policy” and decided to include four spinners.

“That’s what the team needs and Bahutule and Kulkarni did well in the Mumbai-Australia three-dayer,” Borde said.

He indicated that three spinners may be fielded in the series-decider.

Captain Sourav Ganguly also said that playing with three spinners is a possibility and a final decision will be taken after inspecting the pitch.

He is likely to operate with the new ball if three spinners eventually make the XI.

THE SQUAD

Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Sadagopan Ramesh, Shiv Sundar Das, V.V.S. Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Hemang Badani, Nayan Mongia/Samir Dighe, Jawagal Srinath/Debashish Mohanty, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Sarandeep Singh, Sairaj Bahutule, Nilesh Kulkarni.

   

 
 
PLAY IT SAFE IN CHENNAI: GREIG 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
The ongoing India-Australia now evenly poised, all eyes are on Chennai where the crucial third and final Test starts Sunday.

Former cricketing stars and officials seemed divided in their opinion over India’s likely strategy in the next Test. Former England captain Tony Greig felt Sourav and his team should play to their strength. “Batting is India’s strength and they should play safe in Chennai,” he said.

“Besides, there’s nothing wrong in finishing the series 1-1 since, after all, Australia will then return home without conquering India on Indian soil,” he added.

Maninder Singh, himself an offie, said the team should not bother too much about the Chepauk track. “Just concentrate on your game and play to your potential. The result will come about automatically,” he said.

Sambaran Banerjee, former national selector advocated a turner in Chennai. “The Eden showed the Aussies are vulnerable on a turner and the same ploy should be deployed in the final Test,” he quipped.

Kudos for medical unit

Before Steve Waugh’s team suffered probably the most humiliating defeat of their cricketing career at the Eden Gardens today, their supporters had already had enough. Four Australians, here to provide confidence to their team, suffered acute dehydration during the game.

They were brought to the CAB medical unit where Dr Panchanan Moullick treated them. They were thereafter released and reported to have recovered.

The physio of the Indian cricket team, Andrew Leipus, has given a note of appreciation to the medical unit of the CAB.

In a letter to Shibu Dutta, the chairman of the unit, he wrote that this was the most professional unit in the country and he had never come across such efficient doctors and staff.

   

 
 
‘GREAT DAY FOR TEST CRICKET’ 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
Former Bengal players today insisted this victory will regenerate interest in Test cricket and serve as a great advertisement for it.

SAMBARAN BANERJEE: I can’t remember any such game where a team has fought back this way. It was the greatest match I have ever been witness to. A great advertisement for Test cricket.

GOPAL BOSE: It was a remarkable win, coming from a counter-attack that blew away a myth or two about this Aussie team. It’s ‘invincibility’ has stemmed from an ability to make opposing teams believe so. Now their fault lines will also be visible more easily.

I was witness to the England win after following on at Headingley in 1981. It was, of course, the ‘Botham Test’ where he made runs in the second innings and then took wickets by bowling the length that allowed a seaming wicket to do the rest. For each of his good shots he had a few streaky ones, played in the air a lot. But Laxman kept the ball on the carpet in classical fashion.

   

 
 
RANDHAWA AMONG 1ST ROUND LEADERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
Defending champion Jyoti Randhawa launched his campaign with a fine 67 at the Wills Indian Open which got underway at the Classic Golf Resort this morning. He was tied with Vivek Bhandari, American Jeff Burns and Thai Thongchai Jaidee, who all returned five-under-par.

Trailing the four joint leaders by one stroke was a group of six.

According to information received here, Randhawa was off to a slow start after teeing off from the 10th hole. He dropped his first shot of the day on the par four 12th hole, but made up with birdies on the 13th and 14th holes.

“I don’t feel I played well at all. I hit the ball all over the place and was just lucky to shoot five-under-par,” was how Randhawa described his round.

Bhandari, making a comeback after a neck injury-induced layoff, had a bogey-free 67. He had one birdie in the front nine, and four more (10th, 14th, 15th and 17th holes) to finish at five-under-par for the day.

“My best birdie was on the 15th hole, where I hit the ball to 15 feet, out of the bunker and made the putt for birdie,” said a satisfied Bhandari. “I should have also made a birdie on the last hole, where I hit a great drive, but I’m not complaining.”

Nico van Rensburg who played with Randhawa today, had an terrific front nine, five-under-par 31. In his latter nine, though, he made one bogey and eight pars to finish with a 68.

Playing later in the day, Thai Jaidee and American Burns were the other two players to tie for the lead.

Andrew Pitts, Prayad Marksaeng, Chris Williams, Dvid Gleeson and Zaw Moe shot four-under-par 68s, while 1998 champion Firoz Ali, Arjun Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Kang Ji-man, Kyle Woodbine, Arjun Singh, Gerald Rosales and Robert Huxtable were two shots behind the leader with similar scores of 69. Arjun Atwal made one birdie in each nine and dropped a shot on the 17th hole after hitting the bunker and duffing his second shot.

LEADING SCORES, Round I: 67 — Vivek Bhandari, Jyoti Randhawa (Ind), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Jeff Burns (US); 68 — Nico van Rensburg (SA), David Gleesoon (Aus), Chris Williams (SA), Andrew Pitts (US), Zaw Moe (Mya), Prayad Marksaeng (Tha); 69 — Mukesh Kumar, Arjun Singh, Firoz Ali (Ind), Robert Huxtable (US), Gerlad Rosales (Phi), Kang Ji-Man (Kor), Kyle Wodbine (Aus); 70 — Vijay Kumar, Harmeet Kahlon, Indrajit Bhalotia (Ind); Stephen Lindskog (Swe), Taimur Hussain (Pak), Chung Joon (Kor), James Kingston (SA), Lee Seung-Jun (Kor), Keiichi Asano (Jap); Rodrigo Cuello (Phi), Lam Chih-Bing (Sin), Song Byung-Joo (Kor); 71 — Arjun Atwal, Rohtas Singh (Ind), Kim Jee-Wong (Kor), Shinichi Akiba Haruyuki Tsujimura (Jap), Chen Yuan-Chi, Hong Chia-Yuh, Chang Tse-Peng (Chi Tai), Ian Kennedy (SA), Adam Spring, Will Yanagisawa, Scott Taylor (US), Ross Bain (Sco).

   

 
 
MUSLIM INST., KALIGHAT GO DOWN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 15: 
Kalighat Friends have been relegated to the second division of the Calcutta Football League after they came out second-best in double-leg relegation play-offs of the first division group B.

Muslim Institute held Aikya Sammelani goalless at the Rabindra Sarobar today, but were edged out on a one-nil loss in the first leg.

Kalighat Friends were beaten 0-2 by Bowbazar YMU at the SAI. They teams had finished goalless in their first encounter.

   

 
 
BANGALORE RACES/ MUMBAI DANCER LOOKS BEST 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Bangalore, March 15: 
Badly needing her last run, which was after a long lay off, the Lokanath Gowda’s ward Mumbai Dancer now looks very fit to lift the 1,400m Davangere Cup, tomorrow’s main attraction. K. P. Appu partners the Cruachan-Exemplary mare.

SELECTIONS

3 pm: Border Bounty 1. Running Spy 2. Altosax 3.
3.30 pm: Soldier Of Fortune 1. Another Crown 2. Dancer’s Dream 3.
4 pm: Mumbai Dancer 1. Three To Count 2. Amazing Choice 3.
4.30 pm: Dragon 1. Machrie Bay 2. Acceptor 3.
5 pm: Commitment 1. Scenic Song 2. Fingers Crossed 3.
5.30 pm: Star Of Gaiety 1. Dover 2. Anchor 3.
Day’s Best: Mumbai Dancer
Double: Dragon & Star Of Gaiety
   

 
 
MUMBAI RACES/ GREEN PARADISE SURPRISES 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, March 15: 
Ridden by B. Prakash, the D. Todywalla-trained Green Paradise won the Amazing Bay Trophy in Mumbai on Thursday.

RESULTS

(With inter state dividends)
1. Cassandra Plate 1,000m: (1-6-4/9) Clive Commission (Ajay) 1; Heart Beat 2; Super Cop & Raise A Toast 3. Won by: 2-1/2; Nk; D-H; (1-1.7). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 16; 18; 16 (on Super Cop); 20 (Raise A Toast); Quinella: 99; Tanala: 488. Fav: Clive Commission (1).
2. Emirates Prince Plate 1,400m: (11-1-4) Color Me Good (Aaron) 1; Wine N’ Song 2; Momentous Mover 3. Not run: Bon Apetit (10). Won by: 2-1/2; 2-3/4; (1-27.4). Tote: Win Rs 191; Place: 32; 20; 25; Quinella: 561; Tanala: 13,896. Fav: Golden Tiger (6).
3. Rezab Plate 1,800m: (1-6-8) Tajjub (Bernard) 1; That’s Momentum 2; Diplomat Rose 3. Won by: Nk; 2-1/4; (1-57.4). Tote: Win Rs 99; Place: 29; 19; 52; Quienlla: 256; Tanala: 12,667. Fav: Marion Jones (3).
4. Amazing Bay Trophy 1,000m: (5-6-4) Green Paradise (Prakash) 1; Ally McBeal 2; Yewall 3. Won by: 1-1/4; Hd; (1-0). Tote: Win Rs 49; Place: 14; 13; 15; Quinella: 36; Tanala: 417. Fav: Ally McBeal (6).
5. Guiding Star Plate 1,100m: (1-8-3) Anchors Aweigh (Rajendra) 1; Maximus 2; Free Gold 3. Won by: 3; 1/2; (1-9.1). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 13; 59; 31; Quinella: 512; Tanala: 7,572. Fav: Anchors Aweigh (1).
6. Balchand Trophy 1,100m: (12-7-5) Chamonix (Deora) 1; Roll Of Dice 2; Magic Arrow 3. Won by: Hd; 2-1/4; (1-9.3). Tote: Win Rs 126; Place: 37; 16; 14; Quinella: 246; Tanala: 1,763. Fav: Roll Of Dice (7).
7. Kailashpat Singhania Stakes 1,200m; (5-4-9) Champagne Gold (Prakash) 1; Absolute Hit 2; Meringue 3. Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-13.9). Tote: Win Rs 41; Place: 16; 25; 14; Quinella: 191; Tanala: 681. Fav: Meringue (9).
8. T. M. Goculdas Plate 1,400m: (4-1-9) Raring To Go (Rajendra) 1; Flensburg 2; Josh King 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-1/2; (1-26.9). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 13; 18; 31; Quinella: 46; Tanala: 394. Fav: Raring To Go (4).
Jackpot: Rs 80,774; (C) Rs 14,254.
Treble: (i) Rs 3,091; (ii) Rs 2,474; (iii) Rs 2,756.
   
 

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