Good captains are always unpopular: Arjuna
Indian humiliation now a matter of time
IFA summons George quartet
Moscow to hold world chess championship
Paes-Raymond in Round 2
Coach opts out of celebrations
Pune Races/ Rage may be hard to toss
Pune Races/ Al Dente wins ‘Champion’ Trophy
Race Review/ Poor fields bane of classics
Calcutta Races/ Track trials

Colombo, Sept. 1: 
For many, the last word on captaincy rests with Ian Chappell. And, in his shortlist of top captains is an icon of these parts — Arjuna Ranatunga. Incidentally, others of the more recent times are Mike Gatting and Mark Taylor.

Last evening, The Telegraph spent around 45 minutes with Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s (1996) World Cup-winning captain, for a one-on-one specific to captaincy. Thanks to the cooked-up controversy over the beating up of a schoolboy, Ranatunga has been staying away from the Media, but did make an exception for us.

The following are excerpts

On the qualities a good captain should have

Must be very positive... Then, he should be prepared to be unpopular — good captains always are. After all, the selectors may not like it when he asks for certain players and, in any case, he can pick just ten more to complete the XI. I don’t believe any captain will opt for a side which can’t win. Yet, during and after the selection process, it’s possible he will become unpopular... Most important, he must look after teammates. There are ways of doing this, one being to constantly back the players. That done, the captain will be able to get the best out of his team.

On the captains he admired

I will limit myself to the captains I either played under or against... The two who stood out were Allan Border and Martin Crowe. A good captain, in my opinion, is one who can win matches even when he doesn’t — for whatever reason — have the top guns... Border backed his players, began the process which today finds Australia as the No.1 team and, just as important, didn’t allow his own form to really suffer... As for Crowe, I feel he has been the most underrated captain. He deserves the highest marks for just one achievement: Taking a mediocre New Zealand side to the semi-finals of the 1992 World Cup.

On the world of cricket still raving about Mike Brearley

It’s obvious he got the best out of his players... Also, it seemed he always had a strategy in place.

On his assessment of the contemporary Test captains (alphabetically):

Stephen Fleming: Is a veteran captain, isn’t he? Only, nowadays, he isn’t as aggressive as he was some years ago. I suppose being affected by injuries — to a Cairns, or Nash or Vettori — has changed Fleming’s style.

Sourav Ganguly: There was more of rain and less of cricket during the Nagpur Test, on that 1997 tour of India, and I remember Sourav spending much time talking about captaincy... His keenness and the questions he asked quickly convinced me, then itself, that he would captain India... Overall, his captaincy has been impressive... He is aggressive and, during the Kandy Test specially, wanted things to happen instead of merely waiting for the batsmen to make mistakes.

Carl Hooper: He should have got the West Indies captaincy a long time back... I don’t know what happened and why he quit for a couple of years but, as a player, he always came across as the thinking type. Captaincy material, in other words.

Nasser Hussain: An aggressive captain who, unfortunately, is always hard hit by injuries — either to himself or his players.

Sanath Jayasuriya: He has been groomed well and, in the ODIs, hasn’t allowed his form to suffer. Where does he need to improve? I would prefer not to say anything, as a fresh controversy may get started. But, yes, a captain should be judged when the team isn’t doing well. When the side is winning, anybody can lead.

Shaun Pollock: Like Steve Waugh, has a top-class team at his disposal, so... He likes to lead from the front and doesn’t appear to have been burdened.

Naimur Rahman: Can’t comment as I haven’t seen him lead Bangladesh.

Heath Streak: Frankly, haven’t seen much of him (as captain) to form an opinion.

Steve Waugh: Leads from the front and is a strong guy. Indeed, only a strong captain can control so many top players... Having said that, with the talent at his disposal, he is bound to be successful.

Waqar Younis: As a player, I do know he is very competitive. However, I haven’t seen him captain and, so, can’t offer a specific comment.

On whether captaincy affects performance

(Smiles) Didn’t affect me... When I was batting, I was a batsman not a captain. Had I been a bowler, I would have de-linked the captaincy each time I marked my run-up... One has to switch off one role and switch on where the other is concerned. One piece of advice is that a captain shouldn’t attempt too many things when he still is settling down. Also, he must know his limitations. That’s very important. It’s important, too, for the captaincy to come at the right time. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, got it (for the first time, in 1996) when he probably wasn’t prepared...

Finally, on whether captains should be given a fixed term

Absolutely... He should also get a free hand during that period — preferably a full season — and, whatever needs to be assessed can be done at the time of extending his appointment... Captains, in any case, have much to worry about. It can only become worse if he also has to contend with politics. Such an environment won’t help the country’s cricket. It’s important, too, that the support team be good... The coach, manager... Even selectors, who should be open to reason. I remember when I was captain and Ranjan (Madugalle) was one of the selectors, he always left it to me whenever there was a big debate over players. He would coolly say: “Fine captain, now you let us know your choice because, after all, you will be leading on-the-field.” An excellent attitude that.


Colombo, Sept. 1: 
India 234, 217/6
Sri Lanka 610/6 Dec..

Nobody expected the pressure to be less than choking. Equally, nobody expected India to respond so unprofessionally — an unbelievable two run outs — in their second innings, at the SSC. That, too, when trailing by 376 runs.

The sole ‘plus’ for India, at stumps on the penultimate day of the three-Test series, is that the decider has stretched to the fifth morning. It’s a matter of time, however, before Sri Lanka win their first series at home in two years.

That it will come about on Poya Day, tomorrow, suggests captain Sanath Jayasuriya’s prayers at Buddha’s Temple of the Tooth (Kandy) weren’t exactly in vain. Belatedly, he is being blessed.

Of course, India too are on the threshold of a first — the dubious ‘feat’ of losing to Lanka by an innings. It will also be India’s first series loss to the Islanders in 16 years. And, for Sourav Ganguly, his only series-loss as captain.

Exactly a week ago, the Indians were cock-a-hoop after that stunning comeback in Kandy. Today, the last rites are being awaited and few will shed tears for an overwhelmingly sub-standard performance.

“Well, yes, some excitement is there... But, then, our job isn’t complete as four wickets remain,” remarked Jayasuriya, during a chat with The Telegraph. He added: “I’d asked my players to treat this Test as another game... To do their best without inviting extra pressure. Looking back, that advice was well received...”

Coach Dav Whatmore, the quintessential pragmatist, observed: “It’s nice to be in the position we are in, as opposed to India’s, but I’ve always maintained cricket is a funny game and, so... Let’s say I’ll feel better when we’ve got the last wicket.”

Really, both Jayasuriya and Whatmore are rating India higher than the visitors’ own evaluation of their worth.

Speaking exclusively, Sourav said he has asked Hemang Badani and Samir Dighe (the two not out batsmen) to “keep at it,” but acknowledged he wasn’t hopeful of averting defeat. “But for the run outs, I would have been saying something else,” he added, visibly upset by the overall show at the SSC.

A week after playing a match-winning innings (98 not out) in Kandy, Sourav was on course to script a match-saving effort. When on 30, though, he edged Tilan Samaraweera to become the debutant’s maiden victim.

Actually, at 186 for two, with Rahul Dravid and Sourav standing rock-solid, there was even the outside chance of saving the series. That’s when Dravid ran himself out and, 31 minutes later, Mohammed Kaif paid the penalty for a horrible mix-up with the captain.

Even the Lankans couldn’t believe their luck and, very quickly, hopes of a fresh chapter being added to cricket’s Great Escapes ended. Also, the runs dried up and, eventually, the Indians totalled a poor 189 from as many as 96 overs. If one is looking for a formula to add to the pressures, the Indian approach would be the perfect example.

“Being the coach, I’ve got to pinch myself to try and get a solution to basic errors... Charitable shots coupled with fundamental mistakes don’t allow any space for recovery,” opined a deeply disappointed John Wright. Like Sourav, the coach is just hours from his first defeat in a (Test) series.

Yet, in the morning, the start had been excellent with Shiv Sundar Das launching into shots (especially on the off-side) with aplomb. He would have delighted Barry Richards, for one, as Barry believes openers should always be positive. Sadagopan Ramesh, too, contributed and the openers posted 107 (the best for the series) to blunt much of the early pressure.

It’s a pity this wonderful partnership will get buried under the weight of what is expected to be a huge loss. In fact so dominating was Shiv Sundar, in particular, that Jayasuriya took Muttiah Muralidharan off after just five overs. Later, Lanka’s trump card No. 1 bowled 29 on the trot (from before lunch till after tea).

Shiv Sundar, however, fell soon after completing his second half-century (career-wise sixth) of the game. Drawn full stretch forward by Man of the Series-contender Murali, he was smartly taken by Hashan Tillekaratne, among the most outstanding of close-in fielders.

The diminutive opener scored a flamboyant 68 (165 minutes, 161 balls, 11x4), though he was lucky to have been given the benefit of the doubt by Asoka De Silva, when on 45. Overall, Shiv Sundar’s innings was a pleasing revelation.

After three 40s in the series, Ramesh finally got a fifty (career-wise eighth) but didn’t stay for long. Indecision against Murali doesn’t pay and Ramesh got a painful reminder when he went forward and back, only to find himself bowled by the Kandyan’s special one. Ramesh’s 55 came in 229 minutes and off 165 deliveries (4x4).

On this tour, at least, Ramesh consciously worked towards spending time at the crease. The unfortunate bit is that his downfall, almost every time, was self plotted.

Sourav joined Dravid at 147 for two, but this most experienced pair preferred caution to calculated aggression. And, so, the score stood still on 149 for 23 balls and on 169 for as many as 26 deliveries. That would have been acceptable had the duo remained unseparated till stumps.

As it turned out, the partnership ended when Dravid drove Murali to mid-on and set off for a single which could have avoided. Initially hesitant, Sourav responded, but it was Dravid who was running to the danger end. He failed to beat Maravan Atapattu’s direct hit by a whisker, with third umpire Tyronne Wijewardene (of Kandy fame) ruling that the India vice-captain’s bat was on the line and not in.

That one dismissal confirmed this series would go Lanka’s way.

Absolutely ashen, Dravid later told this correspondent: “At that point in time, I thought I was in... It’s possible I wasn’t... I do realise that run out has made such a difference... The drive was hard and, so, I perhaps shouldn’t have...”

But if Dravid has to take the rap for his own run out — it’s a mystery why he didn’t dive — Sourav has to take much of the blame for Kaif’s exit. Inexplicably, neither the captain nor Kaif learnt from the close call a couple of minutes earlier. The fatal run, with Sourav being the striker, was never on and the “yes-no-yes-no” situation ought not to have been reached.

Sourav, who opened his account with a straightfield six off Murali, himself departed at 210 and, then, Sairaj Bahutule (promoted ahead of Dighe) fell to a freak dismissal: Not offering a stroke to Murali, he found the ball brush his front pad and disturb the timber. The nudge was slight, but enough to dislodge the leg-bail.

That only meant more trouble for India but, frankly, they invited disaster on Day-I itself when the first innings didn’t even last three sessions. Such indiscretions cost heavy.


Calcutta, Sept. 1: 
The IFA’s Calcutta Fotball League sub-committee today interviewed Partha Rout Roy and Dilip Samanta, referee and linesman, respectively, in Tuesday’s Geroge Telegraph fracas. On Monday, the committee has summoned three George players that Roy has named — Biman Mondal, Goutam Naha, Supratik Aind and Raju Guha Thakurta. They were the players allegedly involved in beating up Samanta and heckling Roy.

The second linesman that day, Naba Kumar Das, did not appear today despite being summoned. Roy has also accused George coach Raghu Nandy and official Bachhu Gupta of instigating the players. Samanta, though said he was not sure this was right.

IFA joint secretary Ranjit Gupta said: “We are dealing with a serious affair and it may take time.” K.C. Pal, other joint secretary of the association, however, said they are intent on completing the investigation within Friday next, when the Super Division relegation leg resumes. George are now fighting to avoid relegation.

Asked by Gupta why he did not give marching orders to the players concerned, Roy reasoned that such thing would have led to a premature end to the match. “Although the situation warranted such strong action, I really wanted to finish the match,” the referee told the committee. He also was grilled about a technical mistake in his report (he left the “Special Remark” portion of the report blank and instead attached a separate paper with his main report detailing his views). He “admitted” his mistake before the committee. The fracas at the CRA tent has not been dealt with yet. That could come up with the disciplinary committee later.

Third division league

Taltala ekata beat sAI 6-5 in tie-breaker in a third division championship play-off quarter final. Regulation time ended 0-0.


Calcutta, Sept. 1: 
The world chess championship and the women’s world meet will be held in Moscow. The decision was taken at a Fide meeting in the Russian capital Thursday.

World championship matches, up to semi-finals, and the women’s championship will be held from November 24 to December 11. The eight-round world championship final will be played between January 3 to 13.

Viswanathan Anand will lead the Indian challenge along with K. Sasikiran, Dibyendu Barua, P. Harikrishna and Surya Sekhar Ganguly. The women qualifiers will be identified after the Asian women’s meet.

During the world meet, several present and former players including Vassily Smyslov, Victor Korchnoi, Anatoly Karpov and Maya Chiburdanidze will be honoured for their role in the development of the game.


Calcutta, Sept. 1: 
Mahesh Bhupathi’s involvement with the year’s last Grand Slam is already over. Leander Paes’ campaign is alive, though, in mixed doubles. Paes and his regular American partner Lisa Raymond won their first-round match in New York last evening at Belgian duo Tom Vanhoudt and Els Callens’ expense. According to information received here, Paes and Raymond won 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

The second-seeded Indo-American pair, the 1999 Wimbledon champions, will next meet Barbara Schett-Joshua Eagle. Bhupathi and new partner Jelena Dokic were eliminated 4-6, 4-6 by Zimbabwean brother-sister combination of Wayne and Cara Black Thursday.

Paes-Bhupathi were shocked in the first round by little-known pair of Sergio Roitman and Andres Schneiter. The Indian Express had been derailed in Wimbledon first round also by an unheralded team.


Calcutta, Sept. 1: 
Federation Cup champions Mohun Bagan returned to the city today amid much fanfare and jubilation, but coach Subrata Bhattacharya surprisingly remained aloof.

A sentimental though somewhat sarcastic Subrata played down his role, saying no coach in India could claim to be successful. “It’s tragic that a coach is never rewarded like players. Those who now try to felicitate me, will change colours if we slide in the very next match,” he said at the club tent today, referring to his ill-treatment by some club officials during the last National League.

“I want to be alienated from all this and am really in a serious mind to think how long I’ll keep myself involved in coaching,” Subrata said. He, however, said the win would boost the team’s morale in winning the league title.


Pune, Sept. 1: 
An easy winner in smart timing, the Cooji Katrak-trained filly Rage may be hard to toss in the Parx-General Rajendrasinhji Trophy in Pune on Sunday. P. Kamlesh partners the Alnasr Alwasheek- Virginia Princess filly.


1.45 pm: Golden Goose 1. Magic Boy 2. Mischiefmaker 3.

2.15 pm: Tap On Power 1. Cristina 2. L. A. Woman 3.

2.45 pm: Bryce Canyon 1. Timbavati 2. Colour of Joy 3.

3.15 pm: Weathering 1. Phalaenopsis 2. Laurels 3.

3.45 pm: Rage 1. Starsky 2. The Pelican 3.

4.15 pm: Amaron 1. Adam’s Delight 2. Centenary 3.

4.45 pm: Soviet Lake 1. Reaching Out 2. Blue Butterfly 3.

Day’s Best: Rage

Double: Tap On Power & Weathering


Pune, Sept. 1 
The D. Byramji-trained Al Dente lifted the Eve Champion Trophy at the Pune races held on Saturday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Alouette Plate 1,600m: (2-4-5) Zidane (Shroff) 1; Numero Uno 2;Abish 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-3/4; (1-43.1). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 10; 96; Quinella: 146; Tanala: 1,050. Fav: Zidane (2).

2. Shah-Zaar Plate 1,600m: (5-4-3) Steroid (Bhati) 1; Don Alejandro 2; Celtic Son 3. Won by: 1/2; 5; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 364; Place: 36; 17; 36; Quinella: 702; Tanala: 23,181. Fav: Anxious Moments (2).

3. Hydroplane Plate 1,100m: (3-1-5) Persian Lord (Habbu) 1; Catch Me If You Can 2; Scandalise 3. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; (1-8.5). Tote: Win Rs 94; Place: 18; 13; 27; Quinella: 58; Tanala: 1,268. Fav: Catch Me If You Can (1).

4. Rajaram Chhatrapati Trophy 1,800m: (7-8-5) Southern Star (M. Narredu) 1; National Velvet 2; Soviet Ace 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 1/2; (1-52.3). Tote: Win Rs 34; Pla-ce: 18; 17; 23; Quinella: 73; Tanala: 410. Fav: Southern Star (7).

5. Star Prince Plate 1,100m: (7-9-6) Aspiring Star (M. Narredu) 1; Right Moment 2; Lawyer’s Love 3. Won by: 4; Nk; (1-6). Tote: Win Rs 49; Place: 16; 14; 24; Qui-nella: 66; Tanala: 959. Fav: Helianthus (3).

6. Nebraska Plate, Div-II 1,100m: (1-8-5) Suddenly (Gharat) 1; Moonlight Kisses 2; Stage Secret 3. Won by: 2; Hd; (1-8.4). Tote: Win Rs 142; Place: 34; 14; 42; Quinella: 346; Tanala: 13,536. Fav: Smokey Joe (6).

7. Eve Champion Trophy 2,000m: (3-7-1) Al Dente (Kader) 1; Anagram 2; Endorsement 3. Won by: 1-3/4; Hd; (2-6.3). Tote: Win Rs 42; Place: 16; 17; 14; Quinella: 149; Tanala: 464. Fav: Endorsement (1).

8. Snowstorm Plate 1,200m: (9-8-1) Fly Me To The Moon (S. M. Johnson) 1; Aureus 2; Avaleur 3. Won by: Nk; 1-3/4; (1-13.4). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 31; 125; Quinella: 83; Tanala: 3,032. Fav: Fly Me To The Moon (9).

9. Nebraska Plate, Div-I 1,100m: (9-2-8) Pure Pearl (Gharat) 1; Draculla 2; High Voltage 3. Won by: 1; 2-3/4; (1-8.5). Tote: Win Rs 85; Place: 32; 23; 34; Quinella: 217; Tanala: 6,154. Fav: Am-ber Wine (1).

Jackpot: Rs 9,420; (C) Rs 356.

Treble: (i) Rs 3,922; (ii) Rs 871; (iii) Rs 483.


The monsoon classics continue to suffer because of pathetic fields. One cannot help but sympathise with the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) stewards who, despite their selfless and best efforts, find themselves in a helpless situation. Accusing fingers continue to be pointed towards the two big owners who are themselves beginning to complain about the sad state of affairs which have lead them to win classics in default. More importantly, with hardly any betting interest in such events, carrying home stakes of a few lakh of rupees is no great deal for them as their investment in the bloodstock runs into crores.

Fields are thin, despite the city racing being confined to once-a-week compared to other monsoon turf centres that enjoy big patronage with at least eight meetings in a month. The bigwigs are, on the other hand, blaming the rest in the business. They do not view their stock as unbeatable if there is someone to take on them. They feel the opposition has a defeatist attitude. Otherwise what could be the reason for the opposition to cry off from the Fillies and the Colts Trial Stakes that were left with two runners apiece?

As expected, the Bharath Singh-trainee Alcalde, in the Colts Stakes, went to the start as a red-hot favourite and triumphed despite his jockey, Cristopher Alford, failing to exercise perfect control over the Rebounding Thrill-Nimble colt. The jockey appeared to have broken the rhythm of the favourite rounding the home-turn as he failed to negotiate it smoothly. Despite his jockey’s careless handling, the three-year-old colt shifted out of a straight course up in the straight and also shifted in when under some pressure. But once in his galloping gear as he neared the distance-post, Alcalde shot clear of his stable-mate Amalito.

Whatever the opposition’s point of view, even a ‘terms’ race like the Prince Blossom Cup was also devoid of any competition. Alyssum was as hot a favourite as the Colts’ winner in the three-horse field and Cristopher made no mistake on the Vijay Singh trained six-year-old. Although, the verdict between the winner and the second placed horse, Clarice Cliff, may flatter the runner-up’s effort, Cristopher had plenty in his reserve.

Cristopher and Vijay’s partnership could not go beyond the 5-2 favourite Annella, a fluent winner of the Mica Empress Cup. Their last hope Wandering Warrior, in the concluding event, the Buchanan Handicap cried off from the field having hurt himself at the start. The race was claimed by the Daniel David-trained Adeline for her new set of four owners. In fact Nic Connorton, who guided the Sir Bordeaux-Adelisa daughter to a comfortable victory, was in his elements having coasted home with the stable’s hot-fancy Regency Times earlier in the afternoon. The stable was, however, narrowly failed in the Subianca Handicap by apprentice Fateh Ali Khan on another clear favourite, Lively Project, a convincing winner in her previous start. The Always A Rainbow-Lobinda daughter, despite establishing a commanding lead of a shade under three lengths, found the acceleration of the topweight Flying Power to be menacing in the last two strides. Must say, apprentice Amjad Khan rode a well-judged race on the Deepak Karki-trained five-year-old gelding.


Calcutta, Sep. 1: 
Alsheim was pick of the lot during the work outs today:

Outer sand track

1,400m: Annalee (C. Alford) in 1-46s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Alumina (Rb) and Aldridge (C. Alford) in 1-45s; (400m) 30s. Level. Acklins (Rb) and Actuate (C. Alford) in 1-45s; (400m) 31s. Former a length better.

1,200m: Allosaki (Amil) in 1-34s; (400m) 32s. Alsheim (C. Alford) and Master Bold (Amil) in 1-26s; (400m) 30s. Level. Soviet Port (Rabani) and Rescue Act (Islam) in 1-35s; (400m) 30s. Level Storm Centre (Upadhya) and Santa Monica (Dalpat S.) in 1-30; (400m) 29s. Level. Magnifico (Amil) and Automatic (Surender) in 1-31s; (400m) 30s. Former better.

1,000m: Calculus (Upadhya) in 1-19s; (400m). 28s. Grand Lodge (Upadhya) and Flying Scot (Som S.) in 1-13s; (400m) 27s. Former far better. Blassing Heart (Rabani) and Nearco Prince (Maseyk) in 1-15s; (400m) 29s. Level.

800m: Wandering Warrior (Som S.) in 59s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Altiama (C. Alford) in 59s; (400m) 28s. Flamebird (Upadhya) in 59s; (400m) 29s. Easy.

600m: Consul’s Secret (V. Jaiswal) in 45s; (400m) 27s. Keep The Faith (V. Jaiswal) in 42s; (400m) 26s. Good. Chivalrous (Dalpat S.) in 47s; (400m) 30s. Cool Quest (Som S.) in 47s; (400m) 29s. Fit.

Monsoon track

1,000m: Santillana (Connorton) in 1-15s; (400m) 26s.

800m: Ace of Spades (Yasin) in 58s; (400m) 27s. Anakato (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Scavenger’s Son (Saran) and Maltayar (Connorton) in 56s; (400m) 26s. Level. Countach (Jaiswal) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Brave Show (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

800m: Tajik (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Harry The Horse (F. Khan) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Stella Blue (Rutheford) and Carbon Copy (Amil) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Former better. Global Harmony (Amil) in 53s;(400m). 25s. Fit. Double Dancer (Som S.) and Tsaynen Blue (Upadhya) in 52s; (400m) 27. Former better. Bul Bul (Engineer) in 55s; (400m) 27s. As A Rule (Som S.) in 51s; (400m) 26s. Note.Aliqa (Som S.) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Peppy Mistress (Upadhya) in 54s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Bird’s Empire (Yasin) in 57s; (400m) 24s. Fit. Royal Ruler (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 25s.


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