Indians prepare to fight mammoth odds
The Indians aren’t exactly there mentally: Mendis
Referee clarifies Perera position
Rohan’s 188 puts Bengal in charge
Kidderpore, Rajasthan win
Atwal pulls out of top tournament
Calcutta Racing/ Ascoril may come good
Calcutta Racing/ Track trials

 
 
INDIANS PREPARE TO FIGHT MAMMOTH ODDS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Kandy, Aug. 21: 
This prettier than a picture postcard Central Provinces’ capital sees a steady flow of tourists throughout the year. Many are pilgrims, who renew their faith in the Buddha. Quite a few (including non-Buddhists) simply seek his blessings, at the famed Temple of the Tooth.

Nasser Hussain’s Englishmen didn’t visit the Temple, but their phenomenal recovery in the series earlier this year, still began at the Asgiriya here. Thrashed by an innings in the first Test, at Galle, Hussain’s team rallied to win the second and third Tests and ensure for themselves a place in history.

If not from anything else, Sourav Ganguly’s side can, at least, draw some inspiration from the England recovery. But for the Rahul Dravid-Venkatesh Prasad resistance, India too would have suffered an innings defeat in Test No.1. The second of three Tests begins tomorrow.

Again, for India, it’s going to be a test of character. More so as spearhead Jawagal Srinath, India’s most successful bowler in Galle, is back home. Indeed, one Dilhara Fer-nando blow has deprived India of the experience of 53 Tests.

It hasn’t been an ordinary blow as the combined experience of the expected Indian XI will now be 177, less than even the experience of Sri Lanka’s ‘Big Three’ —Muttiah Muralidharan (64), captain Sanath Jayasuriya (60) and Hashan Tillekaratne (57).

Yet, it’s time to look ahead and not brood over the loss of a fifth first XI-player. Sourav himself observed as much: “It’s sheer bad luck, that’s all I can say... Only, now, we’ve got to see how best the available combination can deliver. We have, in the past, comeback from situations where we were almost ‘dead’. There’s no reason to be despondent.”

Realistically, though, the ask has only become tougher. And, quite sensibly (as reported in these columns Monday), the batting order will see a change with the in-form Dravid at No.3 and the captain following him.

Mohammed Kaif, who came one-down in Galle, will bat at No.5, to be followed by Hemang Badani. The latter has already been ticked off by coach John Wright, for the atrocious shot late on the first day in Galle. For the talented left-hander, then, it’s an opportunity to make amends.

Basically, both Sourav and Wright believe in not adding to the players’ insecurity. As Sourav told The Telegraph: “If we drop Badani, then his replacement too may think he has one chance to prove his worth. That’s no way to build a team.” Agreeing, Wright added: “The boy does have class.”

Fair enough, but if the No.6 is left to do all the delivering, then India will be in deep trouble. So, Shiv Sundar Das and Sadagopan Ramesh must ensure a muscular start and, then, the next couple of batsmen will have to build on that. As the coach put it: “Consolidation will be the key...”

Wright continued: “Each of the chosen XI has a role and, really, each one of them must do the job assigned... Being one-down, can motivation be a problem? I think there is a serious problem if playing for India isn’t motivation enough for somebody.”

Jayasuriya, of course, is not willing to dismiss the Indian challenge lightly. “Yes, we won the first Test by ten wickets, but India can bounce back... While we do have the psychological advantage, I don’t think Srinath’s absence adds to that significantly. His replacement (Harvinder Singh) will be high on motivation and, in any case, the Indians must have a plan.”

The plan is actually simple, with bottomline being “don’t repeat the Galle mistakes.” The bowlers have been instructed to maintain a disciplined line and length (specifically, Jayasuriya must be drawn forward), while the batsmen, especially the ones who get set, should not throw it away.

Towards that end, the batsmen (exclusively) have been exchanging notes. Some, like the captain, who desperately needs a handsome score, have been trying different things — practising with wet tennis balls on a cement surface, for example.

The proof of any pudding, however, is in the eating and it is to be seen who produces a Mark Butcher-like innings.

Traditionally, the Asgiriya affords plenty of bounce — Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick had a ball in March —and the cherry does quite a bit. That the wicket had a green look, despite some cropping over the last couple of days, suggests the first session in particular will be the proverbial acid test for batsmen.

Significantly, the moisture content wasn’t negligible this afternoon.

Even otherwise, as the Kandy weather is unpredictable, a cloud cover can emerge (and disappear) at short notice. Today, for instance, there were two spells of showers around lunch time but, thereafter, the sun took centrestage with a vengeance. So...

For the record, the last India-Lanka Test here (July 1993) saw 50 minutes play (12overs) and is solely remembered for being the shortest in history. The Kandyans, though, insist it doesn’t pour in the second-half of August. We have to wait and see.

Muralidharan, by the way, is a Kandyan and (irrespective of the surface) remains the biggest threat, the presence of seasoned Chaminda Vaas and the express Fernando notwithstanding.

While the Indians are expected to make the one forced change only (Harvinder for Srinath), there is talk that it would be better to field two spinners (Harbhajan Singh and Rahul Sanghvi), should Lanka end up batting fourth. Sourav isn’t very convinced with this argument but, if there’s a dramatic rethink, Prasad will make way for Sanghvi. The captain himself, in such an eventuality, will have to do considerable bowling.

Harvinder’s third Test cap is coming after a 41-month wait.

Lanka, on the other hand, appear set to retain the XI which won big in Galle. This will mean taking a risk with Suresh Perera, but the ‘hardliners’ in Lankan cricket are of the opinion that dropping him will weaken their (suspect action) case before the ICC.

Also, the Lankans are known to strongly back players who come under a cloud. Only, as Steve Bucknor will officiate here as well, Jayasuriya will have to judiciously utilise the bowler in Suresh. Assuming, he plays — till late this evening, it was understood he will.

Incidentally, in keeping with practice, the Buddhists in the Lankan side (led by Jayasuriya) spent half-an-hour at the Temple of the Tooth this morning. Later, speaking exclusively, the captain said: “Visits there make us feel good... Helps us relax. Obviously, we pray for success.”

The million-Rupee question is whose prayers will be answered?

TEAMS

INDIA: Shiv Sundar Das, Sadagopan Ramesh, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Mohammed Kaif, Hemang Badani, Samir Dighe, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harvinder Singh and Venkatesh Prasad.

SRI LANKA (likely): Sanath Jayasuriya, Maravan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Hashan Tillekaratne, Russell Arnold, Suresh Perera, Muttiah Muralidharan,Chaminda Vaas, Ruchira Perera and Dilhara Fernando.

Umpires: S. Bucknor, T. Wijewardene.

   

 
 
THE INDIANS AREN’T EXACTLY THERE MENTALLY: MENDIS 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Kandy, Aug. 21: 
Sixteen years ago, Sri Lanka not only beat India for the first time, that 149-run victory at Colombo’s (green top) P. Sara Stadium was the Island-nation’s first-ever Test win. It won’t be forgotten. Also always remembered will be that Lanka’s captain then was Duleep Mendis.

Mendis, currently director of the National Development Committee, still gets emotional while taking a trip down memory lane. That is understandable and it took Lanka 16 years to register their second victory versus India, in Galle last week.

Speaking to The Telegraph from his Colombo residence, Mendis said: “That was the second Test of the series and, really, we built on the momentum gained at the very start. Though the first Test (at the SSC) was drawn, we had the better of the exchanges by a big margin and, then, our quicks hit superb form at the P. Sara...”

A perusal of the scorecard will reveal Rumesh Ratnayeke (the present fast bowling coach) took four for 76 in the first innings and five for 49 in the second. Then, the wild Saliya Ahangama had three for 59 in the first and Asantha de Mel three for 64 in the second. India managed 244 and 198 (chasing 348).

The Lankan batsmen, too, didn’t disappoint: the stylish Roy Dias hit 95 in the first innings and an unbeaten 60 in the second. Then, while wicketkeeper Amal Silva authored 111 in the first, Aravinda de Silva cracked 75 in the second. When the crunch came, the Lankans weren’t short on heroes.

Silva, who also had nine victims, was adjudged Man of the Match for his world record-creating feat (century and nine dismissals).

Reflecting on Lankan cricket’s finest moment till the 1996 World Cup final in Lahore, Mendis continued: “As I said, that we had begun well made a difference. At times, teams start a series not quite on the front foot and continue that way. Yet, there are occasions when a team begins well and plays at the same level throughout... We were up against a highly experienced Indian team, but didn’t allow reputations to affect us.”

[Led by Kapil Dev, the star-spangled side included Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri and Mohammed Azharuddin.]

Lanka went on to win that series as the Indians weren’t able to draw level in the final Test, at the Asgiriya here. “Actually, the entire country had been waiting for our first series win... And, when we had won at P. Sara, I remember the then president, J.R. Jayawardene declared a public holiday... So many years on, it’s difficult to describe the country’s emotions then,” Mendis remarked.

Mendis indicated he might make a trip to Kandy (during the second Test, beginning tomorrow) and “personally” congratulate Sanath Jayasuriya and his boys. “I agree the Indians are depleted but, surely, that can’t devalue our victory. Full marks to Sanath and, from a distance, it does seem that the Indians aren’t exactly there mentally...”

He added: “Even in the ODIs, the Indians have cracked under pressure... Then, in the Galle Test, they certainly didn’t bowl to a plan. In a short series, if you can’t get the momentum quickly, it’s very difficult to stage a comeback. And, so, I don’t expect India to surprise us in the two Tests that remain.”

According to Mendis, the current Lankan team’s driving force is the “commitment to consistency”. As he put it: “The more consistent a team is, the better the results will be... Today, clearly, our team is much more consistent and, just as important, wants to get better.”

Mendis, at least, has given up on India. Now, it’s up to Sourav Ganguly’s team to make this Lankan icon review his assessment.

   

 
 
REFEREE CLARIFIES PERERA POSITION 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Kandy, Aug. 21: 
The ICC-supervised review process for bowlers with suspect action has to be completed “within 12 months.” And, so, there is no tearing hurry for Sri Lanka to put Suresh Perera through the “three-tier” stage of ‘reform’.

Confirming this in a chat with The Telegraph today, Cammie Smith, Match Referee in the on-going series, also clarified that there was “no bar” on the Lankans fielding Perera without the review process being completed.

“Well, he is certainly free to play. Only, the umpire can ‘call’ him in addition to lodging a report with the ICC. So, the option rests with the team,” Smith remarked.

Steve Bucknor, it may be recalled, suspected Perera’s action in the Galle Test last week and reported it to the ICC. However, Bucknor didn’t ‘call’ the quick. Bucknor, though, will be officiating here as well.

Youngest umpire

Meanwhile, Bucknor’s colleague, home umpire Tyronne Wijewardene, will be making his Test debut tomorrow. Wijewardene, who turns 40 on the scheduled last day of the game (September 26), will become the youngest Lankan Test umpire. The record, till now, stood in K.T. Francis’ name. He was 42 on his debut (1982).    

 
 
ROHAN’S 188 PUTS BENGAL IN CHARGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 21: 
A sparkling 188 by skipper Rohan Gavaskar guided Bengal to the drivers’ seat in their Buchi Babu quarter final tie against Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) XI in Chennai today.

According to information received here, Bengal were 339 for eight at stumps on Day Two in reply to KSCA’s modest first-innings score of 232. With just a day remaining, only a miracle can deny Bengal a passage to the last four.

Bengal, resuming this morning on six for one, were quickly reduced to 11 for two as nightwatchman Sourashish Lahiri got out. It was then that Rohan joined Amitava Chakraborty. When their partnership was dislodged 187 runs later, Bengal were truly in command.

The patient opener was an able foil for the aggressive Rohan. Amitava’s 44 spanned 220 minutes and came off 174 balls. Rohan, who batted for 313 minutes, blazed to 188 in 217 balls smashing 30 fours and three sixes. The unbeaten batsmen were Sanjib Sanyal (33) and Utpal Chatterjee (13).

KSCA XI received a blow when Anil Kumble had to leave the field after a short opening spell of five overs. According to Bengal manager Dipen Rudra, the star leg-spinner was feeling discomfort in his shoulder. Kumble, out of big-time cricket since last November, had a surgery on his right shoulder earlier this year and is on a comeback trail.

N.C. Aiyappa was KSCA XI’s best bowler claiming four wickets for 65.

BRIEF SCORES: KSCA 232. Bengal 339/8 (R. Gavaskar 188, A. Chakraborty 44, S. Sanyal 33 batting). Match to continue.

Railways in control

In other matches, Railways reached a commanding 451 for nine in the first innings against National Cricket Academy, reports PTI.

Railways lead by 293 runs and look certain to reach the semis. MRF were 113 for two in 27 overs after New Zealand A declared their first innings at 474 for eight.

   

 
 
KIDDERPORE, RAJASTHAN WIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 21: 
Rajasthan and Kidderpore picked up full points from their CFL first division group A matches this afternoon.

Rajasthan got the better of West Bengal Police by the odd goal in three at the Mohammedan Sporting ground. B. Naskar and S. Bhattacharjee scored for the winners, while S. Mondal pulled one back.

Kidderpore beat Ever-Ready 1-0 at Kishore Bharati Stadium.

In group B action, United Student and Garalgacha notched up 1-0 wins over Police AC and Barisha SC, respectively. Debashish Ganguly and Ashish Ghosh netted the respective winning goals.

In another tie, Taltala DS beat Calcutta Police Club 2-1.

Nursery league

North 24 Parganas JFCS entered the quarter finals of the Nursery division league championship today, beating Dhakuria CCC 2-1 today.

A golden goal settled the issue. The other quarter-finalists are Howrah Friends, Sahajatri, Sodepur Club, Calcutta University Institute and Milan Samity. Already into the last four are Bagha Shome CC.

   

 
 
ATWAL PULLS OUT OF TOP TOURNAMENT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 21: 
Leading Asian PGA Tour pro Arjun Atwal was forced to pull out of the Hero Honda Open due to a tennis elbow injury according to information received from Bangalore today.

Atwal, who recently returned from a three-event stint at the Buy.com Tour, the second largest Tour in the US, injured himself while practising on Monday.

The Hero Honda Open is worth Rs 10 lakh in prize money, with the winning cheque worth Rs. 1,62,000.

Billed as a clash between Asian and Indian golf, the tournament will witness some of the best golfing talent in action. The Asian contingent will be led by Jyoti Randhawa accompanied by Amandeep Johl, Arjun Singh, Gaurav Ghei, Vivek Bhandari, Uttam Singh Mundy, Amritinder Singh, Harmeet Kahlon, Indrajit Bhalotia and Digvijay Singh. Mukesh Kumar will lead the Indian challenge.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ ASCORIL MAY COME GOOD 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 21: 
The focus in tomorrow’s race-card will be on two youngsters — Ascoril and Calculate. Ascoril is out to prove her mettle over a staying trip, the 2,000m Best of All Cup, after her listless second in a two-horse seven-furlong Fillies Stakes. Calculate, on the other hand, was an impressive second to Rescue Act in his debut run. The Serious Spender-Alouette three-year-old takes on 11 rivals in the Record Reign Handicap and may score. Cristopher Alford partners the two Vijay Singh-trained wards.

Read as: Horse number, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:

1st Race at 1.40 p.m.

Pourboire Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV—Rated 22-50) — Indian jockeys only
1 4014 Ardon [Daniel] F. Khan 60.0 3
2 0032 Wandering Warrior [Asfand] C. Alford 57.0 2
3 0003 Pneumatic Power [Daniel] P. Kujur 54.5 1
4 4143 Stately Honour [Mujeeb] P. Kumar 52.0 5
5 2140 Global Harmony [Mujeeb] Md Amil 50.5 4

1. Wandering Warrior (2) 2. Pneumatic Power (3) 3. Ardon (1)

Wandering Warrior: Has come on well since last start. May win. Pneumatic Power: Ran a forward race in his last start. May do better. Ardon: May place.

2nd Race at 2.20 p.m.

Birthday Girl Handicap 1,000m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72)
1 0011 Scarlet Raider [Daniel] B. Gurang 60.0 4
2 0444 Endless Surprise [Daniel] Surender S. 58.5 8
3 1000 Sadaf [Daniel] R. Dalpat S. 56.0 5
4 0000 Addab [Mujeeb] Gajender S. 55.5 9
5 4213 Starina [R. Alford] Rutherford A. 55.5 7
6 3034 Aracruz [Bharath] C. Alford 54.0 2
7 3000 Almond Rock [Daniel] N. Connorton 53.0 3
8 3201 On The Bit [Stephens] F. A. Khan 51.5 6
9 2002 Alborada [Daniel] Md Yasin 50.5 1

1. Aracruz (6) 2. Almond Rock (7) 3. On The Bit (8)

Aracruz: Overlook her last runs. Possesses speed to out-sprint all. Almond Rock: A bleeder, but well nursed and looking fit. On The Bit: Upset, if any.

3rd Race at 2.50 p.m.

Best of All Cup 2,000m (Cl IV, Cl V eligible 00-50)
1 2443 Scavenger’s Son [Daniel] N. Connorton 60.0 1
2 3012 Ascoril [Vijay] C. Alford 57.0 3
3 0043 Ballard Lady [Daniel] P. Kujur 51.5 4
4 - - -4 Keep The Faith [Jaiswal] M. Bhagwat 47.0 2

1. Ascoril (2) 2. Scavenger’s Son (1)

Ascoril: Went easy against stable-mate in the ‘Fillies.’ May win.against the present opposition. Scavenger’s Son: May find Ascoril a hard nut to crack.

4th Race at 3.25 p.m.

Flower Dust Cup 1,400m (Cl V—Rt. 00-28) — Indian jockeys only
1 1002 Tsaynen Blue [Javed] Md. Islam 60.5 5
2 - - - 0 Adorer [Asfand] Surender S. 59.5 1
3 0034 Finders Keepers [Jaiswal] Asghar 56.0 9
4 ---- Jeypore [Bath] S. Shanker 56.0 11
5 0002 Lovely Duchess [R. Alford.] Rutherford A. 55.0 8
6 ---- Aureate [Daniel] Md. Amil 54.5 2
7 0034 Heaven’s Blessing [Bath] A. P. Singh 54.0 4
8 2100 Remember Me [Javed] Som S. 53.5 6
9 - - 42 Lively Project [Daniel] Md Yasin 52.0 10
10 4400 Maid To Measure [Daniel] Saran S. 49.5 3
11 0030 Victoria Rose [Bharath] S. Rabani 48.5 7

1. Tsaynen Blue (1) 2. Lovely Duchess (5) 3. Adorer (2)

Tsaynen Blue: Was outclassed in a 1,200m race. May do better over the scurry. Lovely Duchess: Beginning to show form. May upset. Adorer: Working well.

5th Race at 4.05 p.m.

Whispering Grass Handicap 1,200m (Cl III , 5-y-o & over)
1 2220 Carbon Copy [Mujeeb] N. Bird 60.0 1
2 3013 Sky Command [Mujeeb] Rutherford A. 59.5 8
3 1200 Splendid Star [Daniel] R. Dalpat S. 59.5 5
4 1030 Crimson King [Daniel] N. Connorton 58.0 3
5 2211 Aflicker [Bharath] Md Islam 55.5 6
6 3433 Charlene[Bharath] M. Maseyk 55.5 9
W ---- Tajik [R. Alford] (Withdrawn) 54.0 --
8 1032 Kargil Soldier [Stephens] R. Gowli 53.0 7
W ---- Solo Act [R. Alford] (Withdrawn) 51.5 --
10 3000 Spanish Drum’s [Daniel] Md Yasin 51.5 4
11 4000 High Life [Jaiswal] M. Bhagwat 48.0 2

1. Kargil Soldier (8) 2. Aflicker (5) 3. Crimson King (4)

Kargil Soldier: Went down fighting to Aflicker. May make best of his handicap advantage. Aflicker: In great form. May do the trick again.Crimson King: May place.

6th Race at 4.40 p.m.

Record Reign Handicap 1,400m (Cl V—Rt. 00-28) — Indian jockeys only
1 - - - 2 Calculate [Vijay] C. Alford 60.0 6
2 0000 Eau Savage [Bath] S. Shanker 58.0 8
3 3221 Fencai [Javed] F. Khan 58.0 4
4 0032 Stella Blue [Mujeeb] Rutherford A. 56.0 2
5 - 004 Aberdan [Daniel] Md Amil 55.0 7
6 - - - 0 Abandoned [Jaiswal] Asghar 54.5 10
7 3000 Aventura [Bharath] S. Rabani 54.5 1
8 0043 Maltayar [Daniel] P. Kujur 54.0 11
9 0000 Grecian Prince [Daniel] P. Kumar 52.5 5
10 0000 Consul’s Secret [Jaiswal] M. Bhagwat 52.0 12
11 0000 Break Fast AT Tiffany [Bharath] Md Islam 51.5 9
12 0000 Ghunghat [Mujeeb] Md Yasin 49.0 3

1. Calculate (1) 2. Maltayar (8) 3. Breakfast At Tiffany (11)

Calculate: In her debut run, he finished close to Rescue Act, a good horse. May win no. Maltayar: Looking and working well. Breakfast At Tiffany: May place.

Day’s Best: Calculate

Double:Ascoril & Kargil Soldier
   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ TRACK TRIALS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Aug. 21: 
The following track work was noted this morning:

Sand track

800m: As A Rule (Som S.) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Good. Reactor (Shanker) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s.

Noted on Monday

Outer sand track

800m: High Life (M. Bhagwat) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Good. Calculate (Amil) in 57s; (400m) 26s. Good. Melodeon (Surender) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Easy.

600m: Ascoril (Amil) in 41s; (400m) 26s. Was Impressive.

400m: Abandoned (Rutherford) in 26 2/5s. Fit. Wandering Warrior (Som S.) in 26s. Looking improved.

Sand track

800m: Crimson King (Connorton) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Unextended Ghunnghat (Yasin) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. Easy.

Noted on Sunday

Sand track

1,200m: Maltayar (Yasin) and Pneumatic Power (Dalpat S.) in 1-25s; (400m) 24s. Former easily was 4 ls better.

800m: Lovely Project (Yasin) in 58s; (400m) 24s. Moved well.    

 

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