Indians keen to complete series ‘double’
The war rages for Sourav
Outfield gets flak
CESC move into quarters
City team for Mount Everest
Bagan sign Nakib

 
 
INDIANS KEEN TO COMPLETE SERIES ‘DOUBLE’ 
 
 
FROM ATREYO MUKHOPADHYAY
 
Visakhapatnam, April 2: 
The Australians came to India with the tag of unofficial ‘world champions’ in Tests which was tore apart by a bunch of resurgent men led by Sourav Ganguly.

That gone, the certified world champions in the shorter version of the game now face the possibility of that image being tarnished too down the coast of Coramondal where they cross swords with India in the fourth Pepsi one-dayer tomorrow.

And when champions fall they fall with a bang. The crack was as loud as it gets in Calcutta, and, has since been reverberated at different decibels in Chennai, Bangalore and Indore.

Whatever the decibel count, the explosions were loud enough to surprise the cricketing world as they signalled something which was not performed very often in recent times.

So, when Sourav’s soldiers take on Steve Waugh’s ‘invincibles’ once more at the Indira Priyadarshini Municipal Stadium, they will be keen to complete a ‘double’. A double which was perhaps not perceived possible by many, especially after the three-day mauling in the first Test in Mumbai.

“It’s been possible because we’ve played positive cricket in all departments and did better than them,” explained the India captain. Perhaps, that is why a tennis-like 2-1 lead into the fourth set of a five-set match, makes his team favourite.

Even then, what sticks out like a sore thumb is the skipper’s miserly run with the bat when the team is on song. It has forced another re-think and Sourav has decided to go back to the top of the order. “The move to bat at No. 4 (in Indore) was made as I was not having a good time. It didn’t click and that’s why I’ve decided to go back to where most of my runs have come from.”

His ploy seems to be simple and though he didn’t disclose much, he will once again love to set a target on what he thought was a “good” wicket. His counterpart, however, chose to keep his cards close to his heart.

Steve decided to stay away from the media-briefing and through their media manager, conveyed that the wicket seems to be “full of runs.”

Following the ‘rotation policy’, this time in dealing with scribes, it was administrative manager Steve Bernard’s turn to face the press and the only substantial piece of information he provided was that Matthew Hayden will come back to the playing XI.

“Obviously, we will try to win the remaining games and clinch the series,” he said but couldn’t throw any light on what the possible combination could be.

Darren Lehmann is yet to recover fully after sustaining a hamstring strain in the last match, though he was better, was the only other news from him.

The Indians, also, restrained from naming their possible XI. The only slot, however, which may witness a change is the one belonging to the one coming in at No. 6.

The thinktank is tinkering with the idea of bringing in Yuvraj Singh in place of Dinesh Mongia. Yuvraj’s slow left-arm spin, apart from his robust bat, may come in handy though there is also a slim chance of Robin Singh making a comeback.

Though there may be some uncertainty centering around the No. 6 slot, what looks certain is that the Indians are unlikely to divert from what appears to be a plan: that of somebody willing to go after the bowling in the first 15 overs.

Sachin Tendulkar did that and perished before going on to get a big one in the third. Rahul Dravid,too, seemed to have the same briefing when he came out to open in the third.

“Look, we have quite a few stroke players, so, some of us can afford to step up the pace in the initial overs,” said Sourav. Tomorrow, however, will be another match and the coach struck a more cautious chord.

“It’s a good position to be in (leading 2-1)… I think we played pretty good cricket in Indore. But we have to remember that we have to perform to potential. When we do that, we know we’re a pretty good side.”

The Aussies, no doubt, have realised that to the hilt and maybe that’s why they decided against verbal tactics and chose to work out instead.

That’s the trait that separates champions from lesser mortals and perhaps that’s why they have been able to hang on to that billing for so long.

True, they fall with a bang. But then, when they die, they die hard. That is why expecting a cracker of a match down the coastal city will not be asking for too much.

TEAMS

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

AUSTRALIA (from): Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Michael Bevan, Darren Lehman, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Shane Lee, Ian Harvey, Shane Warne, Damien Fleming, Nathan Bracken, Glenn McGrath.

Umpires: S. Tarapode, G.A. Pratap.

Third Umpire: Aloke Bhattacharya.

Match timing: From 9 am.

   

 
 
THE WAR RAGES FOR SOURAV 
 
 
FROM ATREYO MUKHOPADHYAY
 
Visakhapatnam, April 2: 
Just about a year ago, a new captain had taken over charge of the Indian team who just seemed to revel in his new responsibility. A year down the road, the team is on a roll but the skipper seems to have lost the Midas touch.

That has been the story of Sourav Ganguly, the highest run-getter in one-day Internationals in the calendar year of 2000. He, however, seems too keen to force a turnaround and determination was writ large on his face as the team went through the paces at the Port Trust Stadium here this morning.

“No, it won’t be any different when I walk in to bat tomorrow. As a batsman, I am taking this match just as I have taken the other (161, in all) matches I have played so far,” said the Indian skipper when asked whether this outing would be any different, following a series of poor scores.

What may make things more complicated for him is the widely-mediated story of ‘confrontation’ between him and Steve Waugh and the Indian skipper is hardly amused.

“It just puts me off, they are complaining just about anything and everything. They are supposed to be a good team but to see them complaining every time is just school-boy stuff. There seem to be just too much of it which started right from the beginning of the series,” Sourav said today.

“Our aim is to win the series, we’ve won the Tests and want to finish it off tomorrow. That should be enough for all that has happened so far.”

His Australian counterpart was not available for comment but team manager Steve Bernard said it was a matter of the past. “Here are two captains who are too keen to win a series. Maybe, there is a niggle between them but that can happen in any other sport,” he said.

‘No break from practice’

The Sharjah tour is off and it means there will be a two-month break for Indian players before the series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, South Africa and England.

According to coach John Wright, it may just be a blessing in disguise. For, it will get them two more months to prepare.

“As coach, there are two ways of looking at it. One, it will rob us of match practice. But then, it may be a break from competitive cricket but for a coach, it’s not a break from practice.”

“Also, we’ve just completed a magnificent Test series from which there were lessons to learn and the next few months have in store a lot of new things for us, in terms of training.” The captain was more pragmatic. “We can do little about it. There will be a break but that’s part and parcel of our lives, just like the packed schedule that lies ahead.”

   

 
 
OUTFIELD GETS FLAK 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Visakhapatnam, April 2: 
The outfield at the Indira Priyadarshini Municipal Stadium, the venue of the fourth India-Australia one-day International, has come in for a lot of flak from various quarters.

The outfield is completely uneven, with huge bald patches that can put to shame some of the minor Calcutta Maidan grounds. The bowler’s run-up seems to have been relaid after being dug up recently at the pavilion end.

The conditions drew ire from C. Kasturirangan of the BCCI grounds and pitches committee. He has ordered the groundsmen to roll the outfield to try and make it somewhat better.

Both teams, incidentally, practised at the Port trust Stadium, but the organisers claimed it was because practice and security facilities were better there.

This is perhaps the fifth and last match to be played here. A new stadium, with a 35,000 capacity, has been built nearby, the pavilion block of which will be inaugurated by Jagmohan Dalmiya Wednesday.

The Indians were not willing to comment on the outfield while the Aussie termed it as “good”!

   

 
 
CESC MOVE INTO QUARTERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 2: 
Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) made the grade but Calcutta Customs missed out on a last-eight berth in the 106th Beighton Cup championship.

Gurjit Singh and Sunil Soren struck once in each half to guide CESC past ONGC at the CC&FC today. That gave CESC a slot in group B of the quarter final league which begins tomorrow.

Customs, up by a goal at the halfway stage, let in three thereafter to succumb to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Mohun Bagan ground. CISF find themselves in group A where they take on BSF Tuesday.

Completing the group A line-up were Sikh Regimental Centre, who rode two first-half goals (Rachpal Singh and Suman Kumar) to victory over South Central Railway.

Early hopes

Customs, who have shown good form in the local league this season, surprised their fancied opponents by scoring an early goal. With CISF taking their time to get their bearings right on grass, Ajay Prakash Thapa broke through their defence to sound the boards 11 minutes into the match.

The Chandigarh outfit pressed hard but the equaliser remained elusive in the opening session. Going into overdrive after change of ends, CISF scored twice within four minutes of resumption.

Harish Sharma and Sushil Kumar put finishing touches to two well-constructed moves, pushing Customs 1-2 in arrears.

Not overawed by the dramatic change in tempo, Customs sustained their share of raids into rival territory. They forced four short corners, coming within a hair’s breadth of scoring from the last one. Rajinder Singh hit his drive clean as a whistle only to see the ball rebound off the base of the sidepost.

Realising that a one-goal cushion was too thin for comfort, CISF hit the accelerator at just the right juncture to put the game beyond Customs’ reach. G.V. Xaxa, controlling a 25-yard pass from S.S. Bisht, scored with an angular hit even as a Customs defender and goalkeeper made desperate attempts to block the ball.

But for a Cyril Ekka shot being deflected off its goalbound path, CISF would have come away with a 4-1 scoreline.

PSB kick off today

The star-studded PSB team kicks off its campaign to complete a hattrick of titles with a match against CESC tomorrow. Their seriousness could be noticed straightaway, as they got down to business the moment the last match ended with storm clouds looming over the Mohun Bagan ground.

The likes of Baljit Singh Saini — a key member of the Dhaka Gold Cup-winning Indian team — former Olympians Sanjeev Kumar, Edward Alloysius and Baljit Chandi, as well as junior internationals Teja Singh, Harpreet Singh and Parminder Singh were out on the pitch under coach Gundeep Kumar’s supervision.

As the city-born Saini pointed out, PSB are high on confidence having won two tournaments recently in Punjab. “The team is in good nick and has a good chance of winning the title here for the third time,” he said.

QR FINAL LEAGUE GROUPS

A: BSF, CISF, Army XI and Sikh Regimental Centre.

B: PSB, Bangladesh XI, SAI Training Centre, CESC.

   

 
 
CITY TEAM FOR MOUNT EVEREST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 2: 
A city team made up of doctors, engineers, social workers and nature lovers, is organising a Mount Everest expedition as well as a Himalayan Medical Camp.

The 26-member team, to leave city on April 16, will complete the two-fold programme by the middle of June, team leader Milan Nag informed newsmen this evening.

The medical camp in Dolakha village, Nepal, will form the first phase of the programme, the highlight of which will be 50-60 eye operations. Once that is over by April 24, the focus will shift to the attempt on Everest from Tibet-China side.

Three from the 26-strong team will consist of the climbing party — Dr Susanta Bhattacharya, Ranatosh Mazumdar and Arupam Das. Those on standby will be Goutam Bakshi and Susanta Basak.

The actual Everest summit attempt period has been fixed as May 31-June 2.

The whole project will cost about Rs 50 lakh, four-fifths of which have been raised from private sources so far. The state government has been approached but is yet to sanction any grant.

Prafulla Chandra best

Prafulla Chandra dismissed the challenge of City (Commerce) at Eden Gardens today to emerge champions in the CAB inter-college cricket championship.

Asked to bat first, City managed 199 for nine with no batsman reaching 40. Prafulla Chandra raced to the target, thanks to an unbeaten 94 by opener Sanjay Agarwal. He had earlier taken two wickets.

BRIEF SCORES: City (Commerce) 199/9 in 44 ovs (Anand Kumar Pandey 39, Kinkar Roy 37; Sanjay Agarwal 2/28, Abdul Masood 2/48). Prafulla Chandra 201/2 in 36.3 ovs (Sanjay Agarwal 94 n.o., Uttam Majumdar 39; Rupam Bose 2/22). Prafulla Chandra won by 8 wkts.

   

 
 
BAGAN SIGN NAKIB 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 2: 
Bangladeshi striker Md Nakib today registered himself for Mohun Bagan. Alfaz Ahmed, Nakib’s compatriot, has already signed for the green-and-maroon brigade.    
 

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