India look to keep the momentum going
Sehwag shut out of series
‘Punjab pressure’ on East Bengal
FCI go down to AG Ranchi
State wrestling
EB move into quarter-finals
Calcutta Races/ Added Asset, Tsavo shine
Calcutta Races/ Nine for Thursday’s RWITC Cup

 
 
INDIA LOOK TO KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Pune, March 27: 
If mental toughness is a key word in contemporary sport, so too is momentum. Be it an individual or team game, those on a roll do make the most of a run which isn’t (and cannot be) an everyday occurrence.

Till almost the other week, the world watched Australia steamroll the West Indies and Zimbabwe, at home. Whip India in the first of three Tests, on this tour, as well. Since Mumbai, equations have changed and all the running around must now be done by Australia.

First came the Test series defeat — superb though the last two matches were, few care to remember losers. Then, on Sunday, came that crushing defeat in the first of five Pepsi-sponsored ODIs.

Today, then, the world of cricket is watching India as Australia’s humbling continues. A reminder, yet again, that this sport is the numero uno leveller. A reminder, too, that Sourav Ganguly and India can’t take anything for granted.

“I’m aware of that, yes. In fact, that’s what I’ll be telling the boys at this evening’s team meeting. Australia are the world champions and I expect them to hit back hard. As long as each one of us does what is expected, we shouldn’t have to worry,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

Thanks to a tummy upset (possibly mushrooms-induced), Sourav skipped nets but will take the field on what, again, is a big day for Indian cricket. Australian coach John Buchanan put things in perspective, acknowledging it would be “far better” being 1-1 than 0-2 in arrears.

Buchanan did, of course, pay India a handsome compliment. “It requires time to switch from Test to one-day cricket and, clearly, India were quicker off the mark. Still, the one-day game is such I’m not too concerned we lost the first match.”

Hit by fitness problems over the past few weeks (Jawagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar and Nayan Mongia, for example), India suffered a blow late last night when a (belated) “precautionary X-ray” on Virender Sehwag’s right thumb revealed considerable damage.

Sunday’s Man of the Match, therefore, isn’t just unavailable tomorrow but may be out for two months. Sehwag, who didn’t quite attribute this nasty turn in script to destiny, bravely maintained sportsmen must be prepared for injuries.

But a knockout injury in his finest hour? That’s cruel.

The Sehwag-factor creased the Indians’ foreheads somewhat — resolved by the decision to cap Punjab’s in-form and talented Dinesh Mongia — and didn’t help relax the Australians either.

“Oh, is he out? Well, India have adequate replacements and, so, we wouldn’t read too much into it,” remarked Buchanan, speaking exclusively. He described Sehwag’s Bangalore performance as “very tidy.”

Steve Waugh and Buchanan will be looking for “tidy” performances in their own ranks. Matthew Hayden continues to make a killing and the Waugh twins (certainly the captain himself) can be relied upon most times. Then, Australia have one-day cricket’s most consistent batsman: Michael Bevan.

But the likes of Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist have been a big worry and it’s almost certain Ponting will be dropped. After a miserable Test series (17 runs in five innings), his Sunday-contribution was nine.

Who else gets the axe wasn’t clear till this evening, but Darren Lehmann and Andrew Symonds are set to feature in the XI. Though he looked out of touch, Damien Martyn will probably get another chance. Indeed, there’s even a strong possibility Gilchrist may return to an opener’s slot.

Earlier this season, when on a roll, the Australians had the luxury of rotating players at will. Now, any ‘rotation’ will be out of compulsion.

Having conceded a (one-to-one) record number of runs (315) the other day, the Australians are expected to review their bowling options as well. It remains to be seen, though, whether Shane Lee will be inducted just days after flying across as Jason Gillespie’s replacement.

The selection worries, then, are all Australia’s. As for India, besides the circumstances-prompted change (Dinesh for Sehwag), the Nehru Stadium wicket may induce another.

Though it looked flat, this afternoon, if the thinktank is convinced it will turn more than the normal one-day wicket, Sunil Joshi will replace Ajit Agarkar. Expectedly, no other change is being contemplated.

A job well begun is half done and, towards that end, Sourav is eyeing his first decent score of the past few weeks. A cracker of a start, in maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s company, and the pressure will stay where it already is: On Australia. Incidentally, Sachin is 66 shy of launching the 10,000 runs’ club.

Both, by the way, should also have much bowling to do.

The handsome (60 runs) win in Bangalore notwithstanding, the Indians need to minimise unforced errors. They are inevitable, more so in ODIs where the pressure-level is admittedly higher, but the team which keeps them to a low count has the better chance.

From improved calling, to being more consistent with a stump-to-stump line to being sharper on the field, the areas for getting better are many. Teams which seek immortality or, well, near-immortality, never cease to improve.

Either setting a target or chasing one may not be too big an issue in a day-game and it’s significant India haven’t lost their last four ODIs in Pune. Actually the last defeat, at the hands of Imran Khan’s Pakistan, was all of 14 years ago.

TEAMS

INDIA: Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Hemang Badani, Dinesh Mongia, Vijay Dahiya, Ajit Agarkar/Sunil Joshi, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Jawagal Srinath.

AUSTRALIA (from): Matthew Hayden, Mark Waugh, Darren Lehmann, Michael Bevan, Steve Waugh, Damien Martyn, Adam Gilchrist, Ian Harvey, Andrew Symonds, Shane Lee, Shane Warne, Damien Fleming and Glenn McGrath.

Match begins: 9.00 am.

   

 
 
SEHWAG SHUT OUT OF SERIES 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Pune, March 27: 
What was intended to be the customary Maharashtra Cricket Association dinner, last night, actually was quite eventful: Captain Sourav Ganguly (and coach John Wright) learnt Virender Sehwag would have to miss the rest of the ODIs and, then, the captain himself fell ill.

Sourav, of course, has recovered from an upset stomach — “the mushrooms, probably, did the damage,” he told The Telegraph — but the MoM in Sunday’s Bangalore one-dayer against world champions Australia may undergo surgery on his right thumb.

The allrounder lost balance while fielding and much of his weight fell on the thumb.

It seems nobody quite appreciated the gravity of Sehwag’s injury, not even the allrounder himself. In fact, physio Andrew Leipus acknowledged that, initially, the treatment was sprain-specific. And, so, a precautionary X-ray was done late last evening when Sehwag complained the pain wasn’t subsiding.

According to Leipus, “in a layman’s term, the allrounder has broken his thumb”. However, surgery could be required as “the tendons have dislocated”.

Leipus feels Sehwag will be out for two months.

[Roommate and state captain Vijay Dahiya, though, believes he will back quicker than most expect. “We, the North boys, are real tough...” he quipped.]

The allrounder himself will seek “a second opinion” in hometown Delhi on Thursday, before submitting himself to surgery. “I’ll leave for home tomorrow, but won’t do anything in a hurry. I would first like to consult specialists there,” Sehwag remarked, speaking exclusively this evening.

The local doctors, incidentally, are of the opinion he will be out of action for four-five weeks at least. Sehwag, in any case, should be available for the Zimbabwe tour, which begins end-May.

Jee haan, bahut hi disappointing hai... Lekin sportsmen ko injuries to accept karni parti hai... Destiny? Wouldn’t say so... Bas, cricket ka ek part hai,” he said, accepting the situation with the maturity of somebody who has played 104 ODIs, not four.

Sehwag did come off after getting injured, but returned to bowl a second spell. “I was in considerable pain then itself, but had to think of the team not the dard,” he explained. It’s this attitude which gets the highest marks in Wright’s assessment, specially.

The 22-year-old allrounder made his debut in the tri-series (at home, versus Pakistan) before the 1999 World Cup, but his next appearance was 20 months later, against Zimbabwe. It’s only on Sunday that this Carl Hooper-admirer contributed with both bat and ball to become a hero in less than 100 overs.

Such is cricket; such is life itself.

As it so happens, somebody’s loss is someone else’s gain and in this instance the beneficiary is Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj, a Bangladesh Cricket Board invitee for a commemorative match in Dhaka, is expected to arrive (via Calcutta) late tonight.

Yuvraj, however, won’t be considered for the first XI tomorrow, in game No.2 of the five-match series.

   

 
 
‘PUNJAB PRESSURE’ ON EAST BENGAL 
 
 
BY STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 27: 
East Bengal are within sniffing distance of their target — a first National Football League title — and they can hardly afford to take any manner of encounter lightly.

Leading the field by three clear points, they would want to extend it when they meet JCT Mills, Phagwara, at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow.

East Bengal are on top of the table with 34 points from 15 outings, while JCT are languishing at the bottom, having managed just ten from as many matches.

The fact that the home team starts favourite can in no way lead to complacency, and coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya is well aware of this. JCT have not really shown class in this edition of the League, but any Punjab team is always a different proposition when they take on a Bengal side.

Bhattacharya, of course, will depend on his key strikers Omolaja Olalekan and Dipendu Biswas to deliver the goods, a victory being the main goal for the day. This win could well push East Bengal into that rarefied area from where a fall back to incoherence is pretty tough.

That means the home side will be all out in attack tomorrow. Leaving the JCT wingers loose, though, could always spell trouble, and this is where Dipankar Roy will come in, working the midfield with regular passes and interceptions. If the combination that Biswas and Olalekan have developed over the matches in this league works, then the trio could pull off a fine win, once again.

The players to watch out for in the JCT outfit are Hardeep Singh Sanga, Hardeep Singh Gill, Jaswinder Singh and Harminder Singh. The forte of these players is mainly speed, though ball control will proably be at a premium.

However, if Sanga and Gill are able to work the flanks as they are wont to, the Salt Lake Stadium could be in for a surprise of sorts. It will then boil down to the main, simple yet effective Punjab style football in which the ball is lobbed in from the flanks with any tall opportunist striker being able to head in with ease.

In the case of a tough field, and if the heat does get to the players, Bhattacharya may even go for the softer option of a draw in which case the leading edge still remains decent, though in that case the later matches of the League become crunch ones.

Considering all aspects, East Bengal should be seen in full attacking mode all the way on the morrow.

   

 
 
FCI GO DOWN TO AG RANCHI 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 27: 
AG Ranchi today pulled away from a 1-1 half-time deadlock to beat FCI 2-1 in their opening-round match of the Servo 106th Beightion Cup hockey championship, at the Mohun Bagan ground. They meet CESC Tomorrow.

Earlier at the same venue, Calcuta Port Trust had beaten Punjab Sports Club 3-0, while at the CC&FC ground, Eastern Railway Sports Association (ERSA) whipped West Bengal Police 5-0.

It was in the 14th minute of the match that a shot came off the boots of an FCI defender. That resulted in a penalty stroke, which Man Bahal Herenj converted with ease.

Nine minutes later, FCI’s Sudhir Minz equalised off a field goal, and the local team hung onto the deadlock till the breather despite a number of attacks from the Ranchi team.

Four minutes after change of ends, AG Ranchi’s Yakub Nag finally broke through the goalmouth crowd and scored the winner off a combined effort.

FCI did come back strongly thereafter, forcing penalty corners, but it was either faulty stopping or tardy shots that came in their way. FCI earned six penalty corners in the match, against the Ranchi team’s three.

Port were all over their rivals from the start but managed the first goal only after a barren first half.

In the 50th minute, Mahabir Sanga scored the first, a field goal, and it was followed by Nelson Herenj’s goal nine minutes later. Raja Rabi Das rounded off the tally. Port play Calcutta Customs in the second round. Customs have got a bye to that round.

In the other match of the day, the ERSA scorers were, in order, P. Ekka, Santosh Tigga, Sher Shah, B. Minz and Ranjan Roy.

   

 
 
STATE WRESTLING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 27: 
The golden jubilee state wrestling championship will be organised by the West Bengal Wrestling Association from March 29 to 31 at the panchanan Bayam Samity ground at Joraban Park.

Two hundred participants in 25 teams from different districts and ofice teams (like CRPF, BSF, Eastern Railway, Coal India, FCI, CMC) will take part.

The following will be felicitated: Manohar Aich, former Mr Universe; Nirmal Bose and Niranjan Das, former intrnational wrestlers; Perm Nath of Delhi, Comonwealth Games gold medallilst adn fourth in Munich Olympics; Sumita Laha former powerlifting world record holder and Alpana Sil, international woman footballer.

   

 
 
EB MOVE INTO QUARTER-FINALS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, March 27: 
East Bengal today moved into the quarter finals of the two-day CAB League championship play-off, with a seven-wicket win over BNR Recreation Club. In the quarters East Bengal take on Tapan Memorial.

At the Taltala ground, replying to BNR’s 191 (in which Subir Dey had picked up four wickets and Wrichik Mazumdar three), East Bengal were overnight 85 for no loss.

Today East Bengal went on from where they left off yesterday and overhauled their rivals’ score (194) in 63.4 overs, losing three wickets in the process.

Brief scores: BNR 191. E Bengal (85/0 overnight) 194/3 (A Lahiri 96, A Verma 47). E Bengal won by 7 wkts.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ ADDED ASSET, TSAVO SHINE 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, March 27: 
Added Asset, Tsavo and Best In Show were impressive in today’s work outs.

Outer sand track

1,400m: Crystal Star (Shanker) in 1-56s; 2/5s; (400m) 32s.
1,200m: Almond Rock (P. Kumar) and Bold Apparel (A. Imran) in 1-27s; (400m) 27s. Former a length better.
800m: Double Bull (A. Imran) in 55s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Just Kidding (Yadav) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Tsavo (Khalander) in 56s; (400m) 25s. Note. Cavala (M. Reuben) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Iron Warrior (Upadhya) 58s; (400m) 28s. Freely. Lady Shirley (Khalander) in 56 4/5s; 42 2/5s; (400m) 28s. Moved easy. Spanish Drum’s (B. Gurang) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Pince Obolensky (Yadav) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Impressed.
600m: Global Harmony (Manohar) in 40s; (400m) 26s. Good.

Sand track

1,200m: On The Bit (Yadav) in 1-33s; (400m) 30s. Crest Star (Amjad) in 1- 27s; (400m) 27s. Easy.
800m: Falconaire (Rb) in 1-2s; (400m) 32s. Splendid Star (A. Imran) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Maintain form. Added Asset (B. Gurang) in 48s; (400m) 24s. Moved well. Arctic Fancy (A. Imran) in 57s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Mystic Hill (Yasin) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Solo Act (P. Kumar) in 1-0s; (400m) 29s. Floral Path (Haroon) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Fit. Ghunghat (Nasruddin) in 1-2s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Secret Adversary (Saran) and Rich Dominion (Som S.) in 55s; (400m) 25s. They were level. Maid To Measure (P. Kumar) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Peace Envoy (Tamang) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Sadaf (A. Imran) in 50s; (400m) 23s. Note. Sovereign Bullet (B. Gurang) in 58s; (400m) 29s. Angels Venture (Upadhya) and Grecian Prince (A. Imran) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Former far superior. Lightning Speed (Engineer) in 49s; (400m) 24s. Note. Aragrove (A. Imran) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Mameena (Rb) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Princelene (Khalander) in 48s; (400m) 24s. Fit. Best In Show (A. Imran) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Moved well.
600m: Stately Don (A. Imran) in 44s; (400m) 29s.
400m: Stately Honour (P. Kumar) in 30s.
   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ NINE FOR THURSDAY’S RWITC CUP 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, March 27: 
There are nine in the running for the 1,400m RWITC Cup, the main event in Thursday’s well-represented race-card First race starts at 1.45 pm.

ACCEPTANCES

1. Colorado Claro Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 1.45 pm: Russian Czar 60.5; Peace Envoy 60; The Stud 59; Flamebird 57.5; Bold Apparel 56; Aragrove 54.5; Adeline 52; Special Sovereign 49; Stately Honour 47.5.
2. Pennant Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 2.25 pm: Amarante 60; Kansai 59.5; Solo Act 58.5; Santa Monica 58; Double Bull 57.5; Cavala 56; Little Too Much 56; Starina 55; Raaz 53; Spanish Drum’s 53; Super Smile 51.5.
3. Cavalry Cup 1,400m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 3 pm: Blessed Spirit 61; Crest Star 61; Consul’s Secret 60.5; Global Harmony 59; Remember Me 56.5; Kenilworth 56.5; Appyness 54.5; Pistol Star 52; Ghunghat 50; Go India Go 48.5.
4. R. W. I. T. C. Cup 1,400m (Cl I, Rt. 88 over) 3.35 pm: Stately Don 65.5; Freedom Dancer 62.5; Alyssum 58; Illustrious Reign 56.5; Highland Flame 54; Clarice Cliff 53.5; Tsavo 53.5; Gold Buck 51; Anolini 50.
5. Zara Shah Cup 1,100m (Cl II, Rt. 66-94) 4.10 pm: Mystic Hill 60; Alsheim 58.5; Staffordshire 58.5; Best In Show 56; Endless Surprise 55; Mameena 55; Splendid Star 55; Auctioneer 54; Princelene 54; Addab 53; Arctic Fancy 53; Sadaf 52.5; Almond Rock 51.5; Sovereign Bullet 50.
6. Leprechaun Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, 3-y-o only Rt. 00-28) 4.45 pm: Acklins 60; Alumnus 59; Angels Venture 59; Ascoril 59; Aventura 59; Lightning Speed 59; Ancheta 58.5; Calamint 58.5; Grecian Prince 57.5; Rich Dominion 57.5; Sunset Down 57.5; Rescue Act 57; Breakfast At Tiffany 56; Secret Adversary 56; Victoria Rose 55.
Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.
Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.
   
 

FRONT PAGE / NATIONAL / EDITORIAL / BUSINESS / THE EAST / SPORTS
ABOUT US /FEEDBACK / ARCHIVE 
 
Maintained by Web Development Company