Early advantage takes backseat to late wkts
I still have much to learn: Das
India to host A-team tri-series
Barua provides the spark in dull Round 8
Omolaja nets 4 as EB win big
ACF meets for four hours on Day I
AICF to get new president
Calcutta Racing/ Actress may win tomorrow
Pune Racing/ Rambus for ‘Million’
Mysore tips

 
 
EARLY ADVANTAGE TAKES BACKSEAT TO LATE WKTS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Galle, Aug.14: 
India 163/5

One session, one spell... The beauty of Test cricket is that the good can quickly turn ugly and, equally, the pedestrian can emerge menacing. The many shades of fortune were all too evident on Day-I of the three-Test series. And, even if little was attractive (seven boundaries in 85 overs), the contest had its relevance.

Indeed, Sanath Jayasuriya’s move to claim the second new ball (83rd over) could have proved as forehead-creasing as his decision to insert India. As it turned out, Dilhara Fernando struck in successive overs to neutralise India’s advantage on an extended day.

At tea, India were in fact sitting pretty on 95 for one. Awfully slow by conventional standards but, then, the International Stadium wicket isn’t a conventional one either. Barring Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, who read it reasonably right, the wicket has made many look rather silly.

Yet, the post-tea session (delayed by 24 minutes owing to light rain) saw Sri Lanka stage an exceptional comeback, thanks in no small measure to the Indians’ penchant for gifting wickets.

Unbelievably, the green top is already playing tricks — of a different kind than anticipated — and Muttiah Muralidharan, introduced as early as the 16th over because the new-ball bowlers didn’t quite do their job, has made balls turn square. Lanka may well regret fielding one specialist spinner and packing the XI with four quicks.

And, so, every Indian run will now be invaluable and a score of around 300 could prove match-winning. Of course, to come anywhere near that, Sourav has to play the innings of his 44-Test career and the tail will have to support him in a manner in which Hemang Badani (fifth out) didn’t.

But for Mohammed Kaif, who fell to an express incoming beauty from Fernando, the other four batsmen have themselves to blame. Not for the first time and, one fears, not for the last time either.

Sadagopan Ramesh drove early, Shiv Sundar Das didn’t use his feet, Rahul Dravid stepped out uncharacteristically while Badani flashed in fashion which would call for the axe. That he has exposed the tail to the second new ball is absolutely criminal. Fortunately, Badani has the second innings to make amends. He will get an opportunity with the ball, as well.

Actually, barring Badani, who didn’t allow himself to drop anchor, the rest got out after getting their eye in. That hurts even more.

Shiv Sundar and Ramesh scored 40 (252 minutes, 172 deliveries, 1x4) and 42 (182 minutes, 127 balls, 2x4), respectively, adding a character-laced 79 for the first-wicket. Dravid was around for 42 minutes before departing bat-pad, while Kaif, playing his first Test in 17 months, scored a decent 37.

Clearly, the Lankans were lucky to get away with fairly consistently bowling a yard short (thereby not inducing unforced errors) in the first two sessions.

There was a rain-forced hold-up for 35 minutes in the morning and, then, the final session didn’t begin at the rescheduled time either. The pressure, in such situations, is definitely more on the batsmen. However, at this level, there are no excuses.

Though Sourav was toying with batting first (assuming he had the option), for much of the day, it appeared he had done well to lose the toss. After all, the temptation to let Jawagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan have a go at the Lankans would have been far greater.

It’s Jayasuriya who got carried away but, just as quickly, was let-down by his quicks. That the new ball was wasted probably explains why he was hardly inspirational, as captain, till the rather dramatic last session. Surprisingly, Jayasuriya began with only three slips and one gully when, ideally, he ought to have had six plus the wicketkeeper in that cordon.

Sourav insists it’s early to predict, yet it’s unlikely that this Test will go the distance. The wicket can only deteriorate.

“We would have been better off had we not lost the last two wickets... Still, there’s lots of cricket and, either way, I really wouldn’t like to make a specific comment,” Sourav told The Telegraph, adding he was “calm” and not “perturbed” by the Lankan recovery.

In the morning, against the picturesque backdrop of the famed Dutch Fort on one side, and the sea just metres away, Shiv Sundar and Ramesh didn’t allow the early (35-minute) interruption to affect their determination.

Yes, the innings’ first boundary (from Ramesh) came as late as the post-lunch session and Shiv Sundar required 24 deliveries to get off the mark (154 balls to hit his only boundary), but the openers were being guided by conditions which called for dour batting. Also, the outfield was the slowest one has seen anywhere for years.

A few more runs, in session No.1 specially, would surely have helped but the late-in- the-day ‘collapse’ does put into perspective their excellent work. Sadly, both themselves undid much of that through soft dismissals. Ramesh had been lucky once, early on, while Shiv Sundar had a close call on 15 and dropped on 38, just before he eventually got out.

That Muralidharan had to be introduced so early gave India the day’s first point in the underlying psychological duel. But with Fernando’s first spell (fifth overall) with the second new ball fetching two wickets, it’s the Lankans who ended on a high. It came as no surprise when Sourav and Samir Dighe accepted the umpires’ offer of light.

The first hour tomorrow, in particular, should be fascinating.

Vaas in action: Incidentally, Chaminda Vaas tried to provoke Shiv Sundar more than once and when he did get the diminutive opener, Vaas almost slammed into his right shoulder. One hopes Mr Cammie Smith took note.

   

 
 
I STILL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN: DAS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Galle, Aug.14: 
Opener Shiv Sundar Das’ solidity, to an extent, reminds one of his idol Sunil Gavaskar. There is a touch of Sachin Tendulkar, too, in his mannerisms. Yet, Shiv Sundar remains his own man and has come as a shot in the arm for Indian cricket.

Shiv Sundar began this series with a 48-plus average (eight Tests; one century, five fifties) and, if anything, is determined to improve that. In fact, this 23-year-old has a habit of overcoming whatever odds may be there. In his home state, Orissa, there have always been many. Yet, Shiv Sundar hasn’t allowed the circumstances to overwhelm him.

A familiar face at the business centre of the team hotels, Shiv Sundar spoke to The Telegraph last evening after checking his e-mails. He was relaxed and quite enjoyed the cold coffee and French fries.

Following are excerpts

On the long lay-off, from the end of the Test series in Zimbabwe till joining the team in Sri Lanka as a Test specialist.

Actually, I utilised the time in the best manner I possibly could have. That it kept raining in Bhubaneshwar meant I could do little outdoors. Still, I practised on a cement surface with tennis balls. Moreover, I physically trained a lot. In fact, I didn’t compromise on the drills we’ve been taught.

On whether he has worked on his backlift, something he said he would be doing after Zimbabwe

In a ‘shadow’-manner, yes. But for the rains, I would have regularly done so at the nets, in the open... If a small adjustment is to be made, I’ll do so. In any case, nothing drastic should be attempted bang at the start of a season.

On having returned home (from Zimbabwe) a hero

Felt nice, but the Man of the Series award (scores of 30 and 82 not out; 57 and 70) would have meant so much more had we won the Test series. So, really, I came back with mixed feelings. But, yes, I’ll cherish having been adjudged Man of the Match during our first win (Bulawayo) outside the sub-continent in 15 years.

On whether, having been adjudged MoS, he will now be under more pressure

No. After all, I have a job to do and included in the job is to not let the pressure grow. That award has given me confidence, not additional pressure. Indeed, the exposure to conditions in Zimbabwe should hold me in good stead.

On whether he actually managed time for a one-on-one (in Zimbabwe) with Gavaskar

I did, fortunately. A chance encounter with Mr Gavaskar, earlier, had made me change my guard from middle to leg. I switched during the Australia series and did feel more comfortable and sure. This time, he largely spoke of the need to thoroughly prepare before a match. Part of the preparation, which must be completed on the match-eve, is to get a good ‘feel’ of the ground... He suggested I keep a track of the strengths and weaknesses of bowlers. Towards that end, I closely followed the recent tri-series, studying the Sri Lankans. Mr Gavaskar also said I should just hang in there during the opening sessions.

On not having faced the Vaas’ and Muralidharans earlier

But I’ve seen them bowl a number of times. Incidentally, this is my second trip to Sri Lanka. My first visit was in 1998, as the India U-19 vice-captain.

On the tips offered by personal coach Kishore Mania before this series

(Smiles) Generally, he doesn’t talk much... He just asked me to be patient and to not change what comes naturally. He reminded me that I should always, without exception, know where my off-stump stood.

On whether it’s been of help that the present India coach, John Wright, was himself a top-bracket opener

Of course, it has. It’s not unusual for John to share his experiences and, when he does, there always are one or two things to take note of. I see myself as a beginner and, so, there is much to learn.

On whether he has ever seen a wicket as green as the one here

Quite a few in England, when I played league cricket in 1999 (for Sutton CC). We also encountered a fairly green top during a Duleep\Deodhar game in Vadodara. (Adds laughing) Actually, if a batsman gets runs, then whatever the colour, the wicket is good. It’s only when... I try not to get affected — neither worry nor get carried away. Here, for instance, the green top is a challenge and I’m ready.

On the toughest bowlers

Without doubt Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie. They bowl to a plan and seek to frustrate you by keeping to one line. They don’t err, but the batsman can.

On whether he continues to relax by listening to old Hindi songs

(Smiles again) Absolutely... Songs of Kishore and Rafi...

Finally, on helping with flood relief back in Orissa

A request was made, through a government functionary, whether I would be part of a relief-dropping mission by the Air Force. I said yes, but low clouds that day meant the mission was limited to an area around Cuttack. Whenever called upon, I’ll do whatever I can... It’s so unfortunate that Orissa, more than any other state, keeps getting ravaged by natural calamities.

   

 
 
INDIA TO HOST A-TEAM TRI-SERIES 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Galle, Aug.14: 
India will host an A teams’-specific tri-series in November, with the other sides being Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Once the tri-series is over, both Pakistan and Lanka are also expected to play two ‘Tests’ each against India A.

“Pakistan had already agreed and, today, Lanka have conveyed their acceptance,” informed former Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur (who is here for a couple of days as an emissary of present chief Dr A.C.Muthiah), during a chat with The Telegraph this afternoon.

According to Raj Singh, ex-Australian coach Geoff Marsh will help India A prepare for both the tri-series and the Tests. Roger Binny, as of now, will continue to coach the under-19 lads.

Meanwhile, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, head coach at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore, is set to be retained for one more year (in real terms, one more semester). This was indicated by Raj Singh, who is the NCA chairman.

“Sandhu has been doing an excellent job and I see no reason why he shouldn’t continue,” Raj Singh remarked. Sandhu, it may be recalled, took charge in April this year.

   

 
 
BARUA PROVIDES THE SPARK IN DULL ROUND 8 
 
 
BY BIPIN SHENOY
 
Calcutta, Aug. 14: 
With qualification to the world championship at stake, there were a spate of draws in Round 8 of the Asian men’s chess championship at Gorky Sadan today.

While most of the players on the top eight boards were content to maintain their positions with very quick draws, there was a fierce fight on the other boards to seal the other two positions for the coveted top-ten finish.

Xu Jun still leads the field with 6.5 points.

On a dull, insipid day, Dibyendu Barua provided some excitement in his game against Darmen Sadvakasov of Kazakhstan. After his unexpected setback in the seventh round, Barua was at his creative best today. Playing with white, Barua effectively mobilised his pieces against Sadvakasov’s king in a Sicilian defence. He sacrificed his bishop and then his rook to weave a mating net around his opponent’s king. With this win Barua jumped back into contention with five points.

Spectators had expected some fireworks from Pentalya Harikrishna, who is in sight of his third GM norm. But Harikrishna disappointed by agreeing to a quick draw with the white pieces against Tahir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan.

Harikrishna,who has been paired with Xu Jun in the ninth round, now needs only a draw to get a nine-round GM norm. Harikrishna, though, will have to wait till the final round to become India’s youngest Grandmaster at 15. He already has two GM norms in 19 Swiss league games. Fide rules stipulate that a player has to get GM norms spanning 30 games in Swiss format.

IM Surya Sekhar Ganguly drew against Indian Coach Evgeny Vladimirov of Kazakhstan in a cliff-hanger.Despite being a pawn ahead, Ganguly had to cope with pressure against his king. But he drew by perpetual check by sacrificing his rook in the endgame.

Top Board Results (8th Round)

Saidali Iuldachev (6) drew Xu Jun (7) ; Alexei Barsov(5.5) drew Dung Anh Nguyen (5.5); P. Harikrishna (5.5) drew IM Tahir Vakhidov (5.5); S.S. Ganguly (5) drew Evegeny Vladimirov (5); Wang Zili (5) drew Marat Dzhumaev (5); Li Wenliang (5)drew Leonid Yurtaev (5); Shukhrat Safin (5) drew Mohamad AlModiahki (5); Yu Shaoteng (5) drew Zhang Pengxiang (5); Maghami Ghaem (5.5) bt Zagrebelny Sergei (4.5); Krishnan Sasikiran (4.5) drew Praveen Thipsay (5); Peng Xiaomin (5) bt Ziaur Rahman (4); Handszar Odeev(5) bt Utut Adianto (4); Dibyendu Barua (5) bt Darmen Sadvakasov (4); Abdulla AlRakib (4) lost to Wu Wenjin (5); Morteza Mahjoob (4) lost to Liang Chong (5).

OTHER INDIANS: Abhijit Kunte (4.5) bt D.V. Prasad (3.5); P. Konguvel (4.5) bt Orazly Annageldyev; Pavel Kotsur (4) bt Sriram Jha (3.5); Rahman Manfuzur (3) lost to Lanka Ravi (4); Sandipan Chanda (3) drew Neeraj Mishra (3)

   

 
 
OMOLAJA NETS 4 AS EB WIN BIG 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 14: 
Omolaja Olalekan scored the first hattrick of the Super Division as East Bengal returned to winning ways in grand style at home today.

The Nigerian, in fact, netted four goals while I.M. Vijayan got his first in red-and-yellow shirts as SAIL suffered a 0-5 rout to help East Bengal recover from Saturday’s loss to arch-rivals Mohun Bagan. It also happens to be the biggest victory margin of the current Super Division.

A superb Vijayan cross from left was received by Omolaja inside the box and the latter shot home with none to challenge him.

After a couple of off-the-target headers, Omolaja again shone with a poacher’s finish six minutes from half-time.

Ally, beating an off-side trap, got hold of a Surya Chakraborty through on the right flank. He moved further up and sent in a perfect cross for Omolaja to drive home from close.

Sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead, East Bengal looked more relaxed after change of ends. But an awfully erroneous SAIL defence provided Omolaja, Ally and Vijayan enough openings to pounce on.

In the 75th minute, Omolaja completed his maiden hattrick in India and second in his career. Dipak Das, who replaced Amit Das, sent in a cross from right and the East Bengal forward headed home with the SAIL custodian completely out of position.

Two minutes from time, Vijayan received a Dipankar Roy cross from left. With dispirited SAIL defenders not even trying to stop him, the former FC Kochi player gently tapped the ball in.

Omolaja completed the rout in the dying minutes as he again went in unchallenged to place the ball in coolly.

TEAMS

EAST BENGAL: Hemanta Dora; Ratan Singh (Falguni Dutta, 84), Dipak Mondal, Jackson Egygpong; Surya Chakraborty, Amit Das (Dipak Das, 69), Ally Mayay Temble, Anit Ghosh, Dipankar Roy; Omolaja Olalekan, I.M. Vijayan.

SAIL: Sudip Sarkar, Kishore Das, Chanchal Bhattacharya, Amitabha Ghosh, Srikanta Debnath, Surojit Ghosh (Mustaquin Molla, 57), Sandip Saha, Biswajit Gayen, Ranjit Haldar, Supriyo Dasgupta, Mridul Haldar.

Referee: Ratan Dutta.

Tolly ride Moses strike

In another Super Division match, Tollygunge Agragami, unbeaten in the meet along with frontrunners Mohun Bagan so far, rode a 88th minute Moses Owira strike to edge past BNR at Howrah Municipality ground today.    

 
 
ACF MEETS FOR FOUR HOURS ON DAY I 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 14: 
The development committee of the Asian Cricket Foundation (ACF) today discussed in detail ways of globalising the game and developing it in non-Test playing countries.

The four-hour meeting, under the chairmanship of former Sri Lanka skipper Duleep Mendis, also deliberated on other matters pertaining to development of cricket in the Asian region.

It has been learnt that the ACF, having earmarked a budget of $ 2.5 million for development programmes in the region for the first year, stressed on the introduction of coaching camps under the guidance of several ex-Test cricketers.

Apart from Mendis, the ACF development committee comprises Mazhar Khan of the United Arab Emirates, Anil Kalavar of Singapore, J. Jaykumar Shah of Nepal and T. Krishnaswamy of Malaysia. ACF chairman Jagmohan Dalmiya attended the meeting as a special invitee.

The screening committee will meet tomorrow as the three-day conclave will end with its technical committee meeting Thursday.

Railway coach dies

Samarendra Kumar Das, chief coach of the South Eastern swimming team, passed away on August 10 due to cardiac arrest.    

 
 
AICF TO GET NEW PRESIDENT 
 
 
BY A CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Aug. 14: 
NIIT chairman Rajendra S. Pawar has filed his nomination as a candidate for the presidentship of the All India Chess Federation according to a release here today. The elections will take place at the federatiion AGM on September 1, in New Delhi.

Outgoing president Dhruv M. Sawhney, chairman and managing director Triveni Group introduces Mr Pawar as per tradition.

NIIT have sponsored Fide world champion Viswanathan Anand for a number of years.

Mr Sawhney however, will continue to be associated with AICF as the honorary president, as per rules.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ ACTRESS MAY WIN TOMORROW 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 14: 
Even though there are higher classes trophy events in the frame of six, the prestigious Independence Cup, for horses in Class III, takes the centrestage in Thursday’s race-card.

The 1,400m race has a history of producing unfancied winners, still it is Actress who gets the first call in the field of 10 despite the fact that the Vijay Singh-trained filly will go to the start as the first favourite. A recent winner, the Exclusive Virtue-Simpatica daughter does look improved and may walk away with the trophy in the hands of jockey Cristopher Alford.

Race card and selections

1. Kipling Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 1.40 pm: Countach 60 Asghar 2; Storm Trooper 58 Kujur 3; Alegria 56 C. Alford 1; Pneumatic Power 56 Yasin 4; Floral Path 52.5 Islam 5.
1. Alegria (3) 2. Storm Trooper (2). 3. Floral Path (5)
2. Esmon Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over Rt. 22-50) 2.20 pm: Flying Scot 60.5 F. Khan 1; Double Bull 59.5 Connorton 2; Just Kidding 56 P. Alford 7; Blessed Spirit 53.5 P. Kumar 6; Crest Star 53.5 Yasin 4; Rheinheart 53.5 Shanker 5; Nearco Prince 50 Rabani 3.
1. Flying Scot (1) 2. Crest Star (5) 3. Rheinheart (6)
3. La Gitana Cup 1,800m (Cl II; Cl III eligible Rt. 44-94) 2.50 pm: Illustrious Reign 61 Dalpat S. 2; Lockers Park 54.5 Islam 4; No Regrets 52 Gowli 1; Aldebro 51.5 C. Alford 3.
1. Lockers Park (2) 2. Aldebro (4) 3. No Regrets (3)
4. Gamble For Love Cup 1,200m (Cl I, Rt. 88 & over) 3.20 pm: Alyssum 60 Amil 2; Anolini 52 C. Alford 4; Clarice Cliff 51.5 Rabani 5; Merano 48.5 Som S. 1; Gold Buck 47.5 Yasin 3.
1. Anolini (2) 2. Clarice Cliff (3) 3. Gold Buck (5)
5. Independence Cup 1,400m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 3.55 pm: Cool Quest 60 Gowli 10; Actress 58.5 C. Alford 1; Peace Envoy 58 B. Gurang 9; Grand Lodge 56 Upadhya 2; Tajik 55.5 Ruth-erford 5; Mr. Bombshell 55 Connorton 4; Spanish Drum’s 55 Yasin 7; Ballet Master 52 Kujur 8; Bold Apparel 52 Saran 6; Solo Act 51 Amil 3.
1. Actress (2) 2. Mr. Bombshell (6) 3. Tajik (5)
6. Mount Everest Handicap 1,200m (3-y-o only in Cl IV; Cl V eligible Rt. 00-50) 4.25 pm: Alcalde 60 C. Alford 5; Alamito 56 Rabani 6; Regency Times 52 Connorton 2; Secret Adversary 51 F. Khan 4; Alvernia 47 Islam 3; Lady Shirley 47 Som S. 1.
1. Alcalde (1) 2. Alamito (2) 3. Regency Times (3)
Day’s Best: Alcalde
Double: Alegria & Lockers Park

Track trials, outer sand track

800m: On The Bit (F. Khan) in 43s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Kargil Soldier (F. Khan) in 58s; (400m) 27s. No Regrets (Upadhya) in 1-2s; (400m) 28s. Fit.

Sand track

800m: Ballet Master (Connorton) and Peace Envoy (Yasin) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Former far better. Adeline (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Pneumatic Power (Saran) 56s; (400m) 27s. Royal Ruler (P. Alford) in 58s; (400m) 26s.
600m:Mr Bombshell (Connorton) and Double Bull (B. Gurang) 39s; (400m) 23s. Level. Secret Adversary (B. Gurang) and Regency Times (Connorton) in 44s; (400m) 25s. Both level.
   

 
 
PUNE RACING/ RAMBUS FOR ‘MILLION’ 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Pune, Aug. 14: 
Rambus from Cooji Katrak’s yard, is fancied to win the Nanoli Stud Colts and Fillies Million in Pune on Wednesday. B. Prakash partners the the Placerville-Lap of Luxury colt.

SELECTIONS

1.15 pm: Pink Floyed 1. Adam’s Delight 2. Silent Deal 3.
1.45 pm: Knighted 1. Dominant Force 2. Torres 3.
2.15 pm: Wild Wind 1. Recapture 2. Touch Wood 3.
2.45 pm: Blue Blood 1. Tonnerre 2. Heartbreaker 3.
3.15 pm: Osprey 1. Come Prima 2. Dendrobium 3.
3.45 pm: Rambus 1. Angara 2. Tobler 3.
4.15 pm: Silver Sea 1. Inquisition 2. Castle Grey 3.
4.45 pm: Maximus 1. Blushing Brave 2. Clever Talk 3.
Day’s Best: Blue Blood
Double: Knighted & Rambus
   

 
 
MYSORE TIPS 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Mysore, Aug. 14: 
Royal Triumph is fancied to win the Independence Gold Cup on Thursday.

SELECTIONS

1.45 pm: Millennium Flame 1. Nimrod 2. Snow Top 3.
2.15 pm: Prestigious Baby 1. Semoran 2. Think of Us 3.
2.45 pm: Royal Satsuma 1. Zulia’s 2. Dad’s Joy 3.
3.15 pm: Crown Ivory 1. Squeeze 2. Sand Lord 3.
3.45 pm: Royal Triumph 1. Sunspirit 2. Future Fame 3.
4.15 pm: Kingston Heath 1. King’s Common 2. Far Excellence 3.
4.45 pm: Anjaam 1. Blushing Star 2. Black Ocean 3.
5.15 pm: My Treasure 1. Mera Ladlaa 2. Angie 3.
Day’s Best: Royal Triumph
Double: Kingston Heath & My Treasure.
   
 

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