Sri Lanka conquer India after 16 years
Leading India most difficult: Sourav
Decision on Srinath today
Xu tops, Surya finishes third
Indian show good: Coach
Benoy Saha hattrick in E. Rly win
Anand to meet Shirov again
Wisden website launched
Pune Racing/ ‘Mcbeal’ may win again
Mysore results

 
 
SRI LANKA CONQUER INDIA AFTER 16 YEARS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Galle, Aug. 17: 
INDIA 187, 180
SRI LANKA 362, 6/0
MOM: JAYASURIYA

The Board of Control for Cricket in India recently advertised for administrative posts. It won’t be a bad idea if, now, it also called for players who must, at least, play with pride and passion.

Two months ago, the Indians muffed an opportunity to win a Test series outside the sub-continent after 15 years. A special moment was allowed to slip away, in Harare. Moreover, Zimbabwe cared two hoots about India’s possible date with history. Yet, we ourselves are so generous that, today, Sri Lanka completed their first Test win over India in 16 years.

Inexperienced or not, there can be no excuse for losing the first of three Tests in a shade over three days.

It was under Duleep Mendis’ captaincy that Lanka won at the P. Sara Stadium in Colombo, stunning Kapil Dev’s team. This morning, Sanath Jayasuriya did a Mendis and Sourav Ganguly was made to feel as miserable as Kapil.

Overnighters Rahul Dravid and Venkatesh Prasad helped avert an innings defeat, but it’s humiliating enough that the margin shows ten wickets. Dravid, unbeaten on a gallant 61 (219 minutes, 173 balls, 6x4), and Prasad, who scored 20 (70 minutes, 66 deliveries, 1x4) before being wrongly adjudged leg-before by Steve Bucknor, extended the ‘fight’ by 71 minutes.

Jawagal Srinath, who still has an appreciable swelling in the left knuckles region, did not bat. The Dravid-Prasad partnership was worth 60, the second highest (after the openers’ 79-run stand in the first innings) for India. This alone explains why India got thrashed. It’s simple: If you don’t score, you can’t expect to win.

Thanks to Bucknor, Prasad became Muttiah Muralidharan’s fifth victim (eighth of the match). Incidentally, it’s now 25 times that Murali has taken five (or more) wickets in an innings. Unless the Indians learn to be patient, Murali’s CV will be even more impressive by the time this series ends, in Colombo on September 2.

Though quick Dilhara Fernando, who returned career-best figures of five for 42 in the first innings, was a reasonably strong contender for the Man-of-the-Match award, it eventually went to Jayasuriya for his explosive, morale-smashing 111 on the second afternoon. That one innings, particularly the pace at which it was compiled (138 balls only), confirmed that India were doomed to defeat.

Appropriately, the winning runs came off Jayasuriya’s blade, within two overs.

Showing some emotion, for a change, Jayasuriya told The Telegraph: “Yes, I’m very happy... Not because I returned to form with a match-winning knock, but because that innings helped the team win. However, the work isn’t over and no captain would like to lose the remaining (two) Tests after going one-up.”

While Lanka would do well not to be overconfident, Jayasuriya’s team need not lose much sleep either. The Indians, after all, have given such a pathetic display that no one is quite sure where that one spark of inspiration will come from.

Sure, the Indians rallied from 0-1 down to humble the world-beating Australians, a mere five months ago. But, then, Sourav had the services of Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman, who alone scored over 500 runs. Neither is around and the wickets for Test Nos. 2 and 3 are unlikely to offer assistance to Harbhajan Singh, the chief wrecker in that series.

We should, then, be practical.

“To be competitive in the Tests that remain, we will first have to score. A first innings total of 187 can never be sufficient. Having said that, let me add Lanka outplayed us in all three departments,” remarked Sourav, clearly upset by the just-over-three-days finish.

Of his own form (last fifty was in the home series against Zimbabwe, last November), Sourav acknowledged there are “no excuses” to offer, but did make the point that he was “doing everything” to get back among the runs. He added: “All I need is a start. I thought I had one in the first innings, but...”

Coach John Wright, who has turned on the heat in the dressing room, candidly stated: “There’s no reason why we can’t lift ourselves but, then, it’s a fact that Lanka will be difficult to beat. They have a sharp attack and, if their batsmen also deliver, then they have everything going their way.”

Wright, of course, slammed his bowlers for straying from the gameplan, specially for Jayasuriya. The Indians, it is understood, had decided to bowl straight and get the Lankan captain to step out and drive. Instead, the Srinaths and Prasads kept affording width outside off and Jayasuriya square-cut his way to a fantastic century.

“There’s little that any captain can do if the bowlers deviate from what has already been decided,” Wright observed, agreeing that the outrageous shot played by Hemang Badani late on the first day, which exposed the tail to the second new ball, “can’t be defended.” When somebody asked if there was a formula to tackle Murali, Wright replied: “No, except being positive at all times and not being intimidated by reputation. Basically, players must back themselves.”

Actually, if a formula is to somehow surface, there must be tips to handle Fernando as well. Amazingly, Fernando begins and ends a spell at almost the same speed: In excess of 140 kmph. He only means business.

Quality fast bowlers aren’t new to Lanka but, for one reason or the other, the real tearaways haven’t always been fielded together. Now, Lanka have Fernando and Ruchira Perera’s pace to complement veteran Chaminda Vaas’ experience. It’s an extremely potent combination. And, Nuwan Zoysa is on the road to recovery.

Jayasuriya, in fact, made special mention of Fernando. As he did of the wily Murali. Significantly, speaking generally, the Lankan captain revealed the “strategy” to tackle Harbhajan is clear-cut: “Take the minimum risk.”

If anything, Harbhajan will probably have to be a wee bit slower through the air, will have to be patient and, most important, will have to pitch right up there to Jayasuriya. This, perhaps, may make some difference.

Only, it can’t be left to Harbhajan alone to get India out of the mire.

   

 
 
LEADING INDIA MOST DIFFICULT: SOURAV 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRAPRATAP SAHI
 
Galle, Aug.17: 
There are few jobs either more high-profile or glamorous than that of India’s cricket captain. Equally, when the going isn’t good, no job makes you feel more lonely. If there’s a doubt, just look at Sourav Ganguly.

Of course, Sourav himself doesn’t readily accept the lonely-bit but, in a chat with The Telegraph over lunch today, he did say: “It’s about the most difficult job, that’s for sure. After all, it’s the people’s emotions that determine exactly where you stand. On top one day, rock bottom the very next. It’s scary...”

In happier times, Sourav would have chosen a more prominently placed table. This afternoon, at the Lighthouse Hotel, he preferred one which wouldn’t immediately attract attention. Even the waiters weren’t kept unduly busy; it was a quiet meal.

Should Sourav’s own form continue to be dismal and, just as bad, the team also can’t get its act right, it will hardly surprise if the captain who helped turn things around after the match-fixing scandal, may himself decide the job isn’t quite worth it.

Indeed, it would be an understatement that Sourav has been devastated by the whipping in the first Test, which ended well before lunch on Day IV. Just once before, after the ICC KnockOut final, in Nairobi last October, did the captain look as shattered.

“Yes, I know I must not allow my shoulders to droop... That won’t send the right signals but, if you wish to talk of the match, what do I say? We can, and should, fight back... Can’t say more at the moment.”

[During the Media conference earlier in the day, Sourav (rightly) didn’t dwell on the absence of four first XI players — Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, V.V.S. Laxman and Ashish Nehra. Replying to a Sri Lankan journalist’s question, Sourav simply said: “Injuries will happen and there will be times when key players won’t be around. However, that can’t ever be an explanation for a defeat.”]

But was he was putting himself under more pressure, the pressure of having to score big, each time he took guard?

“This game is all about pressure, isn’t it? I’m determined; I’m trying everything possible... It’s just that I’m not getting a start. It’s no excuse, but a couple of bad decisions (first innings in Bulawayo and here) haven’t made it any easier... I do agree that a captain must lead from the front,” Sourav responded.

The captain hasn’t scored a (Test) fifty for 12 innings now, the last being an unbeaten 65 in the second innings of the Delhi Test against Zimbabwe. Already, this is a stick in his detractors’ hands.

It’s possible Sourav will call his top backer, Geoffrey Boycott, for suggestions. The advice will probably be that he move his feet better. That, if required, he take a longer step forward. That, essentially, when strokemakers are in trouble, they should first look at their footwork.

Sourav, by the way, has already spoken to coach John Wright about his batting. The coach has been doing his bit; the captain insists he personally couldn’t prepare better. Bottomline still is that the runs aren’t coming. And, with Sachin (to a lesser extent, even Laxman) not around, the pressure on an inexperienced middleorder is getting more choking.

“Let’s see, I may have a one-on-one with Rahul Dravid, on how he didn’t allow additional pressure to weigh him down when he had a bad run... I will, perhaps, have a session with him before the Kandy Test (from Wednesday),” Sourav revealed.

After scoring 144 versus New Zealand in Mohali (October 1999), Dravid’s next fifty-plus score was 13 months and 16 innings later: An unbeaten 200 against Zimbabwe, in Delhi, last November. Since then, though, the captain-in-waiting has grown even more in confidence and stature.

“What is past is history... I’ve always maintained that but, still, three of my seven Test centuries are versus Lanka and, today, that should up my confidence somewhat. It’s not that I haven’t got runs... Yet, I accept only runs in the two Tests that remain will make a difference...” Sourav signed off, as wife Dona (the couple’s first baby is expected in November) reminded he had to help with the packing, for the trip to Kandy via Colombo.

If he could have, Sourav would probably have hastened his (and the team’s) departure from a venue which has given a black eye.

   

 
 
DECISION ON SRINATH TODAY 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Galle, Aug. 17: 
A decision on whether Jawagal Srinath will continue on tour will be taken tomorrow, after the quick has had a second X-ray of his left hand, in Colombo.

Srinath, it may be recalled, was struck by Dilhara Fernando (on the second morning) just above the knuckles and had to retire hurt in that first innings. In the second, he couldn’t bat at all.

According to physio Andrew Leipus, the X-ray here was “inconclusive” as a fracture or even a crack, as is feared, may not immediately show up. Now, the one tomorrow (before the team departs for Kandy) will determine Srinath’s immediate future.

The Indians left for Colombo late this afternoon, for a night halt, before yet another drive — this time up the hills.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, while Debashish Mohanty will be in the frame to replace Srinath, if he does have to return home, there’s an outside chance that allrounder Virender Sehwag could get the nod. Of course, nothing has as yet been formally discussed.

Incidentally, Srinath’s right index finger was fractured during the Mumbai Test, against Australia, earlier this year. The damage then was caused by Jason Gillespie. Srinath had to miss the rest of that three-Test series.

   

 
 
XU TOPS, SURYA FINISHES THIRD 
 
 
BY BIPIN SHENOY
 
Calcutta, Aug. 17: 
Blame it on destiny, city traffic, the organisers or whatever you can. But believe it or not, P. Harikrishna was today denied a chance to become the youngest Indian Grandmaster because his arrival at the Asian men’s chess championship venue was delayed by more than 15 minutes!

The youngster was paired against Iran’s Ehsan Ghaem Maghami in a final round match he had to win to seal the GM title. Because of the delay, what he could manage was a 28-move draw at Gorky Sadan this morning.

“I could have gone for a win by playing a sharp game but I was caught in a traffic jam and delayed by more than 15 minutes. With reduced time control, every minute is very important. So I decided to play safe,” a disappointed Harikrishna told The Telegraph later.

Despite having secured three GM norms, Harikrishna will now have to collect another to clinch the title. However, his performance here won him a place in the world championship to be held in late November. He will get another opportunity at the Commonwealth meet beginning in London tomorrow.

Surya Sekhar Ganguly and Dibyendu Barua also made it to the world meet which made this championship memorable for India. Surya, in fact, got the third spot after tie-breaker which made him richer by $ 5,750. This was the best performance by an Indian (apart from Viswanathan Anand) in a meet of this stature.

As expected, top-seeded Chinese GM Xu Jun of China won the title with a quick draw with Alexie Barsov of Uzbekistan which took his tally to 8.5. This was Xu’s second successive Asian crown, after his triumph in Udaipur last year. Saidali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan was second with eight points.

Barua finished seventh but for other Indians, it was a disappointing championship and none could make it to the prize list of 24 players. The greatest disappointment was Sasikiran, who would like to forget this meet. However, Sasikiran had already qualified for the world meet by virtue of winning the zonal meet and will be in the Indian contingent of five along with Anand who is seeded.

The top ten from here were supposed to qualify for the world meet but Mohammad Al Modiahki of Qatar, who finished ninth, had already made the cut. His place would have gone to Shukhrat Safin of Uzbekistan who finished 11th. But China’s Yu Shaoteng got the berth since the Uzbek had also qualified earlier.

TOP BOARD RESULTS: Xu Jun (8.5) drew Alexei Barsov(7.5); Saidali Iuldachev (8) drew S.S. Ganguly (7.5); P. Harikrishna (7) drew Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (7.5); Petr Kostenko (7) drew Yu Shaoteng (7); Li Wenliang (7) drew Dibyendu Barua (7); Zhang Pengxiang (7.5) bt GM Marat Dzhumaev (6.5); Evegeny Vladimirov (6.5) drew Mohamad Al-Modiahki (6.5); IM Tahir Vakhidov (6.5) drew Wang Zili (6.5); Leonid Yurtaev (6) lost to Shukhrat Safin (7); Zagrebelny Sergei (6.5) drew Eugenio Torre (6.5).

OTHER INDIANS: Vladimir Magai (6.5) bt K. Sasikiran (5.5); Praveen Thipsay (5) lost to Rolando Nolte (6); D.V Prasad (5) lost to Pavel Kotsur (6); Abhijit Kunte (5) drew Enamul Hossain (5); P. Konguvel (4.5) lost to Isaev Jamshed (5.5); Sriram Jha (4) lost to Hoang Thanh Trang (5); Lanka Ravi (4.5) drew Mahmood Lodhi (4.5); Neeraj Mishra (5) bt Barlo Nadera (4); Sandipan Chanda (5) drew Morteza Mahjoob (5).

FINAL STANDINGS 1. Xu Jun 2. Iuldachev Saidali 3. Surya Shekhar Ganguly. 4. Zhang Penxiang. 5. Alexei Barsov. 6. Ghaem Maghami Ehsan. 7. Dibyendu Barua. 8. Le Wenliang. 9. M. Al Modiahki. 10. P. Harikrishna. 11. Shukhrat Safin. 12. Yu Shaoteng. (All qualify for world meet. Modiahki and Safin had made the cut earlier).

   

 
 
INDIAN SHOW GOOD: COACH 
 
 
BY ATREYO MUKHOPADHYAY
 
Calcutta, Aug. 17: 
The average Elo rating of the field meant it would be tough for Indians in the Asian men’s chess championship which got over today. As things turned out, it proved a happy outing with three of them bagging berths in the world meet out of a maximum of ten from this meet .

P. Harikrishna, Dibyendu Barua and Surya Sekhar Ganguly performed in contrasting manner to qualify for the world’s toughest chess competition and coach Evegeny Vladimirov had reason to be happy though he himself lost out on a slot at the world meet.

“It’s been an excellent tournament for Indians. The average Elo rating made it look tough for them, but most of these ratings were done under the old time control. It doesn’t reflect a player’s true strength under the new rule,” the Kazakh coach of the Indian team told The Telegraph today.

Harikrishna, regarded by many as the most talented Indian after Viswanathan Anand, remained unbeaten though he had to wait till the final round to confirm a berth. Barua overcame two defeats with some timely wins but for Ganguly, this was the first major success at the big stage. The Bengal youngster collected just one point from the first three rounds but finally lived up to expectations.

“I practised with Barua for seven-eight hours a day for the last two-three weeks and it worked. Without doubt, it’s been my biggest achievement. I never thought of qualifying for the world meet,” Ganguly said.

Barua admitted the emergence of so many young Indian challengers made him more determined. “It was an added motivation, to compete with and beat these youngsters,” he said. “I lost twice, but only after letting opportunities slip.”

Barua, who Vladimirov thinks is at the right age to excel, said the eighth-round win over former world junior champion Darmen Sadvakasov gave him the confidence. “He’s drawn with Garri Kasparov twice and I had to take a lot of risk against him, it was a great match,” Barua recalled.

Vladimirov felt Barua is showing a lot of fighting spirit now. “He has overcome some psychological problems regarding the new time control,” noted Vladimirov, who had beaten Barua in the previous world championship before losing to Alexander Morozevich in the third round.

   

 
 
BENOY SAHA HATTRICK IN E. RLY WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 17: 
Salkia Friends beat Howrah Union 2-0 while Eastern Coalfield and Ever-Ready played out a goalless tie in the IFA League first division group A matches at Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan grounds respectively today.

In group B Benoy Saha scored a hattrick and Archisman Biswas struck twice as Eastern Railway thrashed Bata 5-1 at East Bengal ground today. Peerless routed Sonali Shibir 5-0 and City AC edged past Milan Beethi 1-0.

Bijen penalty

East Bengal today extended Bijen Singh’s suspension to September 1 and also penalised him of a month’s salary, which is approximately Rs 1 lakh.    

 
 
ANAND TO MEET SHIROV AGAIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 17: 
World champion Viswanathan Anand will once again face Alexei Shirov in the two-day rapid event at the Villarobledo International Open tournament this weekend.

According to information received here, apart from Anand and Shirov, others taking part in the meet in Spain include Alexander Beliavksy, Sergei Tiviakov, Vadim Milov and Alexnader Chernin.

Anand beat Shirov comprehensively in the world championships final in Tehran last December.

The event in Villarobeldo carries a total prize purse of around $ 16,500. More than 30 GMs and IMs will take part in the meet.

   

 
 
WISDEN WEBSITE LAUNCHED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 17: 
Wisden’s explanation for why none of Sachin Tendulkar’s innings were included in its list of top 100 Test knocks can be found on www.wisden.com.

The website, launched today with such interactive options, will also provide live scorecards and columns by eminent cricketers like Mark Taylor, Nasser Hussain and Sanjay Manjrekar.

It also plans to digitally distribute contents of all 138 editions of Wisden.

   

 
 
PUNE RACING/ ‘MCBEAL’ MAY WIN AGAIN 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Pune, Aug. 17: 
Acomfortable winner in her previous outing, the Imtiaz Sait-trained filly Ally Mcbeal is strongly fancied to claim the 1,200m Chakori Torphy, the main event in the eight-event Pune race-card on Saturday. Malesh Narredu partners the Placerville-Ablaze four-year-old daughter.

SELECTIONS

2.15 pm: Mambo King 1. Eminent Leader 2. Loretta 3.
2.45 pm: My Girl Can Dance 1. Recognition 2. Change The Attitude 3.
3.15 pm: Ally Mcbeal 1. Absolute Hit 2. Cymbidium 3.
3.45 pm: Iron Mask 1. Pleasure Hunt 2. Roll of Dice 3.
4.15 pm: Flensburg 1. Tap On Power 2. Among Men 3.
4.45 pm: Sedona 1. Eastern Command 2. Soviet Ace 3.
5.15 pm: Berliet 1. White Lie 2. Double Up 3.
5.45 pm: Inspire 1. Betsy 2. Great Magician 3.

Day’s Best: Inspire

Double: Mambo King & Ally Mcbeal
   

 
 
MYSORE RESULTS 
 
 
BY TITAN BOY
 
Mysore, Aug. 17: 
The Inayathulla-trained Alylady won the Safi Darashah Memorial Gold Cup in Mysore on Friday.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Apache Prince Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (2-7-4) Masti (Rakesh) 1; Aegis 2; Silver Falcon 3. Won by: SH; 3; (1-31.2). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 19; 39; 20; Quinella: 261; Tanala: 2,961. Fav: Rusticana (6).

2. Bright Hanovar Plate1,100m: (8-2-6) Bold Commander (Abraham) 1; Catch Word 2; Angel of The East 3. Won by: 1/2; 3-3/4; (1-11). Tote: Win Rs 142; Place: 35; 12; 31; Quinella: 145; Tanala: 4,854. Fav: Catch Word (2).

3. Apache Prince Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (8-1-3) Francophone (Mani) 1; Enthronement 2; Mum’s The Word 3. Won by: 3-1/4; SH; (1-31.1). Tote: Win Rs 800; Place: 45; 13; 15; Quinella: 347; Tanala: 4,827. Fav: Enthronement (1).

4. Canny Scot Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (3-6-8) Kilkemny (Patil) 1; Royal Caribbean 2; Cambrian Dawn 3. Not run: Royal Philosopher (9). Won by: SH; 2-3/4; (1-17.3). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 12; 12; 40; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 304. Fav: Kilkemny (3).

5. Y. R. Puttannaiah Memorial Gold Cup 1,200m: (7-6-8) Grisogono (Warren) 1; Al Habib 2; Secret Halo 3. Not run: Winelight (4). Won by: 1/2; 6; (1-14.5). Tote: Win Rs 67; Place: 15; 16; 13; Quinella: 108; Tanala: 531. Fav: Secret Halo (8).

6. Mount Everest Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (2-4-10) Prowl (R. Marshall) 1; Supreme Heights 2; Ardent Flame 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 2-1/4; (1-29.9). Tote: Win Rs 55; Place: 16; 13; 78; Quinella: 47; Tanala: 2,025. Fav: Supreme Heights (4).

7. Safi Darashah Memorial Gold Cup 1,200m: (8-4-5) Alylady (Rajesh) 1; Yewall 2; Allabreva 3. Won by: 1-3/4; SH; (1-13.8). Tote:Win Rs 47; Place: 16; 28; 15; Quinella: 235; Tanala: 1,901. Fav: Resist The Force (3).

8. Yeshwantpur Plate 1,600m (10-7-8) Three To Count (C.Krishnan) 1; Rumpelstiltskin 2; Soul of Gold 3. Won by: 1; SH; (1-41.9). Tote: Win Rs 58; Place: 19; 19; 27; Quinella: 95; Tanala: 1,560. Fav: Atomic Fusion (3). (Note: Winner survived objections from riders of second and fourth placed horses).

9. Canny Scot Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (3-7-5) Triple King (C. Krishnan) 1; Splendid View 2; Barassie 3. Not run: Royal Castle (2). Won by: 3-1/2; 4-1/2; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 13; 17; 17; Quinella: 79; Tanala: 354. Fav: Triple King (3).

10. Mount Everest Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (5-6-10) Sacristia (Harish) 1; Aide de Memoire 2; Trap A Spy 3. Won by: 2; 9-1/2; (1-29.2). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 16; 15; 164; Quinella: 59; Tanala: 2,063. Fav: Auchterarder (1).

Jackpot: Rs 21,319; (C) Rs 2,665.

Treble: (i) Rs 13,570 (C.o). (ii) Rs 1,855; (iii) Rs 987.
   
 

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