Shortcuts never work: Muralidharan
Lal: A fabulous resurrection
Harikrishna youngest Indian GM
Mixed draw for the Indian Express
Race Review/ Cristopher dictated terms
Pune Races/ Gironde likely to triumph
Calcutta Races/ Arendal, Alvarada catch attention

 
 
SHORTCUTS NEVER WORK: MURALIDHARAN 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Kandy, Aug, 25: 
The chucking controversy is a thing of the past and, today, Muttiah Muralidharan is the most successful off-spinner in cricket history. Yet, he remains unassuming, though he is given to mood swings. One Australian umpire, in particular, may not think much of Murali, but this fiercely competitive Sri Lankan does have legions of admirers. In fact, he is among the most sought after Lankans and it’s quite a task managing a one-on-one with him. Murali, though, spoke to The Telegraph the other evening — exclusively on the spinners he admires and the characteristics that go into the making of a quality off-spinner.

The following are excerpts

On what makes a quality off-spinner

Chiefly, the ability to introduce the odd variation. Nowadays, specially, the spinners aren’t strictly of the orthodox type and, so, some variation has to be there. Then, the basics of bowling, not just spin bowling, must be clear. In other words, the off-spinner in question should consistently bowl a good line and length.

On the off-spinner he idolised

Look, there was no live telecast when I was growing up and, so, there was no exposure for me to benefit from. Moreover, in school (St Anthony’s, Kandy), I began as a medium-pacer but switched to off-spin after the coach (Sunil Fernando) insisted I didn’t have the build to bowl fast. That, then, was how I started off-spin. It’s not that I was influenced after seeing some big name bowl.

On the spinners he respects/admires most

Shane Warne: It will be an understatement to say I enjoy seeing him bowl... Despite being a wrist-spinner, Shane is so accurate. I find this remarkable... Then, he has the variations. If I may add, it’s easier to bowl off-spin, as opposed to leg-spin.

Mushtaq Ahmed: He unleashed a great googly, which batsmen found difficult to pick... Sadly, because of Pakistan’s dependence on quicks, I don’t think (at his peak) he got the opportunities he really deserved.

Anil Kumble: The ultimate, perhaps, in accuracy. Being accurate is his forte and that one quality alone has made him a great leg-spinner.

Saqlain Mushtaq: He may not get exceptional turn, but he has a good away-ball and, whatever the situation, is always a fierce competitor.

Daniel Vettori: I feel he is highly underrated but, as he is young, he has age on his side and I expect him to do better in years to come. It hasn’t helped, of course, that he has had injuries.

[Murali also talked of Abdul Qadir, someone he never played against but who, in Arjuna Ranatunga’s opinion, was often more difficult to tackle than even Warne. Murali values the former Lankan captain’s views highly.]

On Harbhajan Singh

Very promising, but let us first see him over a period of time. He shouldn’t be judged on his performance in just a couple of series. In any case, spinners mature gradually.

Finally, his advice to aspiring off-spinners

(Smiles) Don’t put yourself under pressure... In fact, don’t even allow others to weigh you down with expectations. Bottomline, then, is to enjoy whatever you do. At the same time, enjoyment doesn’t mean you don’t go the distance and, instead, attempt shortcuts. That, please understand, will never work.

   

 
 
LAL: A FABULOUS RESURRECTION 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 25: 
Not very long ago, Arun Lal was a big admirer of Sourav Ganguly’s batting. Of late, though, the former Test opener was getting disturbed by the India captain’s lack of form and repeated mistakes. After today’s matchwinning knock at Kandy, Lal has rejoined the Ganguly Fan Club.

“India’s win and Sourav’s return to form are the most thrilling things to have happened to Indian cricket in recent times,” said Lal. “Indeed, it’s a fabulous resurrection.”

“Yes, even I had started having misgivings about his form. He was under phenomenal pressure, there were calls for his head all over the country. To play an innings like this under these circumstances is quite unbelievable.”

According to Lal, very few Indians have played a knock of such character. “It’s comparable to V.V.S. Laxman’s 281 and Rahul Dravid’s 188 against the Aussies at Eden in terms of the pressure and and context of the match.”

As a captain, Lal feels Sourav has done few things wrong. “He has stuck to his aggressive instincts which has helped the team win several matches. To come back from a 0-1 deficit in three-Test series twice is just great, and that’s a tribute to his captaincy.

“The runs were not coming. Now that he is back in form, there’s only one way he can go — up,” observed Lal.

Risen like the Phoenix: Gopal Bose

Former Bengal opener Gopal Bose agreed that Sourav’s effort today is as good as a rebirth for the Bengal Tiger. “He has this uncanny knack of coming back from the brink. He has once again risen like the proverbial Phoenix from the Ashes.”

Bose described Sourav’s knock as all the more praiseworthy because he had to deal not only with the opposition but “also a monster like Raj Singh.”

The biggest gain, Bose said, was that a captain had been rediscovered. “Indian cricket needs Sourav the captain. He’s like Imran Khan — doesn’t cow down, takes the fight to the enemy and irritates them.”

   

 
 
HARIKRISHNA YOUNGEST INDIAN GM 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 25: 
P. Harikrishna has finally become a Grandmaster — the youngest Indian to reach the landmark — breaking the record of Viswanathan Anand.

The Andhra Pradesh youngster is 15-plus, and the world champion was 17-somehting when he became India’s first GM. Harikrishna is the sixth Indian to join the elite club of chess players, after Anand, Dibyendu Barua, Pravin Thipsay, K. Sasikiran and Abhijit Kunte.

However, Harikrishna’s path to glory has not been exactly easy. Currently playing in the Commonwealth meet in England, the Indian had collected his third (and supposed to be the final) GM norm at the Asian meet in Calcutta last week.

He was kept waiting as he was yet to complete 30 games in the Swiss format. However, it was later detected that one of his norms had come from the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul which is considered to be an open tournament.

According to rules, a player needs to complete his norms in 24 games if one of the norms comes from an open tournament. Following this, it became clear that Harikrishna had actually become a GM during the Asian meet itself.

“Harikrishna’s norm certificate from the Chess Olympiad wasn’t very clear. That’s why he wasn’t declared GM in Calcutta,” clarified AICF secretary and Fide vice-president P.T. Ummer Koya to The Telegraph from Tirur today.

“We have taken it up and Harikrishna’s case has been referred to Fide. The title will be formally conferred on him during the Fide general assembly meeting next month,” Koya said. The meeting will be held in Greece from September 4-12.

Harikrishna leads

PTI adds from London: Harikrishna is leading with six points after seven rounds in the Commonwealth meet. Today, he beat Thipsay. British IM Graeme Buckley is second with 5.5. Kunte shares the third spot with five points after a draw against WGM Jovana Houska of England.

Playing with white pieces, Harikrishna decided to test Thipsay at his own game. The game took shape tactically and and Harikrishna vaught the veteran off-guard in a precisely calculated manoeuvre to collect the point.

In other games, IM Lanka Ravi lost to GM Dimitri Anagnos Topoulos of Greece, Barua drew with IM Peter Sorway of England. IM P. Konguvel lost to IM Neeraj Mishra in a Sicilian Defence with white pieces.

Saheli Dhar Barua drew with Y. Pratibha, while the other Indian woman in fray, Bhagyashree Thipsay, came back into reckoning with a comfortable victory over Alexandra Wilson.

STANDINGS (After Round VII)

1. P. Harikrishna (6); 2. G. Buckley (5.5(; 3-7: A. Kunte, J. Houska, D. Anagnos Topoulos, N. McDonald, D. Gormally (5); 7-10: P. Thipsay, N. Mishra, C. Crouch, C. McNab (4.5).

   

 
 
MIXED DRAW FOR THE INDIAN EXPRESS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 25: 
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have got a mixed draw in the US Open men’s doubles event beginning next week at New York’s Flushing Meadow. The Indians have relatively easy opponents in the opening two rounds before moving into potentially dangerous territory from the pre-quarter final stage.

Seeded fifth, the French Open champions will open against the unknown Argentine-Italian combine of Sergio Roitman and Andres Schneiter. Up next in the path of the Indian Express will be the winners of the Juan Ignacio Carrasco-David Skoch versus Massimo Bertolini-Devin Bowen match.

If the seedings hold good, Paes and Bhupathi will come up against No. 9 pair Yevgeny Kafelnikov-Wayne Ferreira in the last 16, fourth-ranked Max Mirnyi-Sandon Stolle in the quarters and second seeds Donald Johnson-Jared Palmer in the semis. That’s a tough order, at least on paper.

The pride of place in the seedings list has gone to Australian Open winners Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman. Should the Indian Express find themselves confronted by the top seeds in the title round, though, Paes and Bhupathi shouldn’t feel overawed. Woodbridge and Bjorkman have twice been singed by Indian firepower in recent weeks — they lost to Paes-Bhupathi in the Cincinnati Masters Series meet and to Bhupathi-Sebastien Lareau in the Indianapolis RCA Championships.

A fourth career Grand Slam triumph will also help the Indian pair close in on Woodbridge and Bjorkman in the Team Race for the year-end No. 1 ranking. The Aussie-Swede duo is 200 points clear of the Indians who were numero uno in 1999.

MEN’S DOUBLES SEEDINGS

1. Todd Woodbridge & Jonas Bjorkman; 2. Donald Johnson & Jared Palmer; 3. Jiri Novak & David Rikl; 4. Max Mirnyi & Sandon Stolle; 5. Leander Paes & Mahesh Bhupathi; 6. Daniel Nestor & Nenad Zimonjic; 7. Petr Pala & Pavel Vizner; 8. Bob & Mike Bryan; 9. Yevgeny Kafelnikov & Wayne Ferreira; 10. Mark Knowles & Brian MacPhie; 11. Wayne Arthurs & Michael Hill; 12. Ellis Ferreira & Rick Leach; 13. Joshua Eagle & Andrew Florent; 14. Wayne Black & Kevin Ullyett; 15. Paul Haarhuis & Sjeng Schalken; 16. Martin Garcia & Cyril Suk.

   

 
 
RACE REVIEW/ CRISTOPHER DICTATED TERMS 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
 
In spite of her weight advantage, Ascoril’s thrashing in the Fillies Stakes match-race, at the hands of her stablemate Andrada, made a poor case for her to win the Class IV race last Wednesday. But, old-timers were prepared to give her concession on the ground that the Vijay Singh-trainee was taking on a top-class horse in the first classic of the season. On her bloodlines, the Green Forest-Pretty Eyes daughter gave the impression that she was more at home over a staying trip than the stretched sprint of 1,400m which had tarnished her image. Ascoril proved the seasoned campaigners right in the 2,000m Best of All Cup which she won virtually by the length of the home straight.

A small field normally becomes the burial ground for the favourites expecting the opposition to cut pace for them early in the race. Ascoril, nevertheless, had an able ally in the lightweight Keep The Faith who rendered the yeoman’s services in the first half of the trip. Although it was a virtual crawl in the first two furlongs, the pace turned out to be decent from the 1,400m marker. In fact, the 55-100 hot favourite hardly required the services of the Tarak Nath Jaiswal-trainee once she got into her rhythm. But her jockey Cristopher Alford was in no hurry and waited till the home turn before pouncing on to the second favourite before drawing away from her rivals.

Cristopher, who booted home three winners on the day, looked to be in a fine nick after the narrow loss of his favourite Wandering Warrior in the curtain-raiser, the 1,200m Pourboire Handicap. In the last furlong of the race, the 5-4 public-choice had his chance to catch-up with the winner Ardon but chicken-hearted as he is, the Warrior never made a bold bid to beat the game Daniel David-filly who led from the start.

It was Aracruz, in the Birthday Girl Handicap, who gave Cristopher a winning start before he had an armchair-ride on Ascoril. The champion jockey used his head more than the speed of the filly to counter the opposition that was packed with sharp sprinters. Cristopher held back the Bharath Singh-trainee behind Starina and the favourite Almond Rock who tried to break strides of the 7-2 second favourite. The frontrunners, nevertheless, burnt themselves up by the home turn. Shooting into the lead, thereafter, Aracruz coasted home untroubled while the favourite just about managed to edge out a late finishing Endless Surprise.

Calculate was an impressive second to a good filly Rescue Act thus the Serious Spender-Alouette was very much in demand in the Record Reign Handicap. The Vijay Singh-trained colt presented the last of the three wins to Cristopher and the young jockey did not disappoint. However, the topweight had to be niggled almost all through the 1,400m trip thus making his shade-under-three-length victory look ordinary.

Among the other winners of the day Sky Command impressed, thanks to the handling of apprentice Rutherford Alford who seems to be emerging as a thinking jockey. In his last start, the young lad had let down a big following on the horse having made a quick move. He put to use the short burst of the Mujeeb-trainee effectively in the Whispering Grass Handicap, which saw a big gamble on Kargil Soldier being floored in the hands of Robert Gowli. However, the Soldier could have finished a lot closer to the winner had Gowli not taken the home turn very wide on the favourite known to relish late run. Adorer was another one who let down a massive gamble in the Flower Dust Cup. But it did not come as a surprise as the Asfand-trained four-year-old filly was out on the competitive turf after nearly eight months. The race was won by Lively Project from the start.

   

 
 
PUNE RACES/ GIRONDE LIKELY TO TRIUMPH 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Pune, Aug. 25: 
Trained by Cooji Katrak and ridden by Malesh Narredu the Wolfhound-Charara four-year-old filly Gironde is likely to win the Turf Club Trophy in Pune on Sunday.

SELECTIONS

1.15 pm: Imperial Falcon 1. Money Madness 2. Neptune’s Girl 3.
1.45 pm: Shahandeh 1. Crown Affair 2. Sarena Pride 3.
2.15 pm: My Opinion 1. Kahini 2. Silent Deal 3.
2.45 pm: Killarney 1. Infamous 2. Alice Charms 3.
3.15 pm: Criollo 1. True Thriller 2. Razana 3.
3.45 pm: Gironde 1. Adamile 2. Arrakis 3.
4.15 pm: Pecan Pie 1. Texas King 2. Thunder Clap 3.
4.45 pm: Dance With Me 1. Multi Millionaire 2. Seville Star 3.
Day’s Best: Criollo
Double: My Opinion & Killarney

SATURDAY’S RESULTS

(With intet-state dividends)

1. Orange Flower Plate 1,400m: (2-5-3) Fire Girl (Shaikh) 1; I’m Honoured 2; Jaannisar 3. Won by: 4; 2; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 14; 34; 22; Quinella: 178; Tanala: 869. Fav: Fire Girl (2).

2. Beandaz Plate 1,600m: (1-3-7) Final Verdict (M. Narredu) 1; Route To Gold 2; Prima Ballerina 3. Not run: Salt Lake (4). Won by: 2-3/4; 6; (1-40.7). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 12; 12; 27; Quinella: 16; Tanala: 85. Fav: Final Verdict (1).

3. Tristar Plate 1,000m: (2-8-10) Flasher (Rajendra) 1; Fluency 2; Spring Time 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 9; (1-1.2). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 13; 25; 14; Quinella: 137; Tanala: 386. Fav: Sizzling Symphony (9).

4. Sonic Boom Plate 1,600m: (2-6-8) Malada (Sandeep) 1; Rigged For Revenge 2; Winning Melody 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 5-1/2; (1-42.1). Tote: Win Rs 73; Place: 17; 12; 19; Quinella: 178; Tanala: 1,039. Fav: Winning Melody (8).

5. Sky High Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (1-8-12) The Flying Star (Sandeep) 1; Soliel 2; Lovingly 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-15.1). Tote: Win Rs 29; Pla-ce: 15; 32; 28; Quinella: 202; Tanala: 1,458. Fav: The Flying Star (1).

6. Sub-Area Commander’s Trophy 1,800m: (4-1-2) Suratha (Rajinder) 1; Bonjour Tristesse 2; Beau Wonder 3. Won by: 4-3/4; SH; (1-55). Tote: Win Rs 59; Place: 16; 22; 12; Quinella: 194; Tanaal: 770. Fav: Beau Wonder (2).

7. Dr. S. R. Captain Trophy 1,200m: (8-11-7) Master Honey (Ruzaan) 1; Zeisha 2; Moment of Truth 3. Won by: 3/4; 1/2; (1-12.8). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 13; 27; 56; Quinella: 114; Tanala: 1,990. Fav: Master Honey (8). (Note: There was a stewards’ inquiry into the running of the race).

8. Triple Star Plate 1,000m: (7-3-6) Abbeydoran (Rupesh) 1; Avenging Angel 2; Royal Secret 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1; (1-0.5). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 33; 118; Quinella: 100; Tanala: 2,075. Fav: Abbeydoran (7).

9. Sky High Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (5-2-14) Infuriate (Shelar) 1; Sakshi 2;Twinkling Star 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 2-1/4; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 126; Place: 30; 13; 56; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 5,035. Fav: Sakshi (2).

Jackpot: Rs 4,125; (C) Rs 200.

Treble: (i) 190; (ii) Rs 1,320; (iii) Rs 254.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACES/ ARENDAL, ALVARADA CATCH ATTENTION 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Aug. 25: 
Arendal, Alvarada, and Annella were impressive from among the following horses seen exercising today morning:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Arendal (Amil) and Alvarada (C. Alford) in 1-51s; (400m) 28s. Former was a length better.

1,200m: Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 1-36s; (400m) 26s. Moved nicely. Silver Toy (Som S.) in 1-30s; (400m) 29s. Flamebird (Som S.) and The Stud (Upadhya) in 1-28s; (400m) 29s. They were level. Melodeon (Surender) in 1-29s; (400m) 29s.

1,000m: Magnifico (Brij S.) in 1-13s; (400m) 28s.

800m: Annella (C. Alford) in 55s; 41s. (400m) 26s. Fit..Winning Hand (Som S.) and Staffordshire (Upadhya) in 54s; (400m) 27s. Former far better. Allaying (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Easy.

Monsoon track

1,600m: Alvernia (Rb) and Sunset Down (Maseyk) in 2-11s; (400m) 32s. They were level and easy.

1,200m: Alamito (Islam) in 1-35s; (400m) 31s. Classic Pursuit (Rabani) in 1-34s; (400m) 27s. Alkido (C. Alford) and Soviet Port (Rabani) in 1-21; (400m) 27s. Former was 2 ls better. Note former.

1,000m: Grand Lodge (Upadhya) in 1-18s; (400m) 27s. Cup of Life (Amil) and Rare Gold (C. Alford) in 1-8s; (400m) 25s. They were level.

800m: Tequila Shot (G. Singh) and Gold Buck (Shanker) in 51s; (400m) 24s. They were level.Rescue Act (Rabani) in 51s; (400m) 23s. Maintains form Amistad (Islam) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Moved easy. Double Dancer (Rb) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Alyssum (Amil) and Annalee (C. Alford) in 49s; (400m) 24s. They were level. Don Vittorio (Shanker) and Rheinheart (G. Singh) in 54s; (400m) 27s. They were level.Ispahan (F. Khan) in 51s; (400m) 24s. Fit.

600m: Reactor (Shanker) in 41s; (400m) 24s. Easy. Floral Path (G. Singh) in 43s; (400m) 27s.

Sand track

800m: Alumnus (Engineer) and Armila (Locke) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Former was 4 ls better. Added Asset (B. Guranbg) in 1-0s; (400m) 31s. Crest Star (Yasin) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Calculus (Som S.) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Ashbury (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Aliqa (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 27s. Bul Bul (Engineer) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Storm Trooper (Amjad K.) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Azurica (Som S.) in 56s; (400m) 26s. Easy. As A Rule (Som S.) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Fit.

   
 

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