National cap comes easy nowadays: Raman
Bengal labour to 4-wicket win
Nayan Mongia may come into picture
Gangjee wards off Mukesh fightback
‘Senior’ players made the difference: Saini
Vinod Sewa, Reedhina bag titles
Mysore Racing/ Ansbach win lifts city spirit
Pune Racing/ Shanillo shocks

Calcutta, Oct. 21: 
Woorkeri Venkat Raman has meant business from the day he took over as Bengal coach. Two sessions of intense practice daily has been accompanied by fielding drills and physical conditioning. There will be no respite for the cricketers even during the Pujas.

The former India opener spoke to The Telegraph last evening on a wide range of topics. However, due to contractual obligations, he did not discuss his current assignment.

Following are excerpts

Q How did you benefit from the Level III coaching course you completed from the cricket academy in Adelaide?

A That’s basically a course designed to broaden your views about the game. It also focusses on the mindset a coach needs. It’s one thing being a player and completely different being a coach. It provides guidelines on how a coach should assess his players and the way he should go about in various aspects of this game.

Q What are your previous experiences before taking this assignment?

A I haven’t done anything official, but have been working with youngsters in Tamil Nadu. In fact, a couple of young guys like S. Sriram and Hemang Badani have been helped a fair bit by me.

Q Does coaching Bengal invite any additional pressure since it’s the BCCI president and the India captain’s team?

A Let’s leave aside all other aspects. Any cricketer or any assignment is rated by the success he achieves. The game by itself is all about results. It’s no different from being a player and that’s how you’ll be rated as a coach.

As a player you can at least shape your fortunes but as a coach you’ll have to play a behind-the-scenes role.

Q You tried your hand at commentary after retiring. What prompted you to get into coaching?

A I’m still in a situation of realising myself. I did do a fair bit of commentary in the domestic circuit but the point is, I’m trying to find out what I enjoy more. It’s not that I’m trying to explore new avenues. Let’s put it this way: I’m capable of both commentating and imparting knowledge to the youngsters. Somewhere down the line, I might just stick to one thing.

Q How do you see the role of a coach?

A If you are talking of domestic cricket, I think it is very important. From what I have seen over the past couple of years after retiring, the youngsters do seem to lack guidance. In some cases, they don’t even know the basics of the game. They need guidance to improve their cricketing skills and think about their own game.

I’ve noticed the youngsters just play, pack their bags and go home unlike old days when all the guys used to sit down and evaluate things. It was not an analytical session but, at least, some cricket was discussed. That’s where guys used to pick up points from and work on their game.

Q Do Ranji cricketers need coaching or is it the motivating factor that plays a bigger role at that level?

A Overall, there are a lot of distractions these days and the youngsters are not as serious as those from previous generations. Specifically, they are not focussed enough. It is here that the coach needs to play a vital part — to get the team focussed collectively.

There are a lot of things somebody seeing from outside can pinpoint better.

Q Are cricketers only to be blamed for this lack of focus?

A I wouldn’t say they don’t want to get themselves focussed. They don’t really have the basic breeding as far as cricketing skills or attitude is concerned. There are lot of coaching camps all over the country. But somehow if you look at the quality of cricket, at least in the domestic circuit, it has gone down. One good example is that there has been a search going on for a left-arm spinner and ‘keeper in the Indian team for a long time. If you look back to the 80s or the 70s, people immediately knew who all were available. Now if you look at it, the number of new caps that has been inducted into the side is unbelievable.

A lot of people say cricket has improved. It definitely has, in certain areas. But if the national selection panel is to struggle to find a player for a particular slot for quite sometime, it is an indication otherwise.

Q Is it a problem with the attitude?

A No. It’s my pet theory that these guys today haven’t been made to work hard for their national caps. The approach to the game and the inclination to hone their skills have taken a backseat. Guys are thrust into the national side too early.

Let’s say a cricketer has a good game in an ‘A’ Test or an Irani Trophy and gets drafted into the national side. Earlier there used to be lesser number of games and the quality was high. You had to perform consistently over a period of time which definitely helped you gain experience. You had to stand that test successfully to be eligible to get into the pool of fringe players.

Q Would you say the national cap comes easy these days?

A In a way, yes. Look at Sourav Ganguly. I don’t have to elaborate on what he is today. But the first time he made it to the India side in 1991-92 was a horrible experience for him. But then he had hardly played a full season of first-class cricket. He suddenly found himself nowhere. Thereafter he played and performed consistently in domestic cricket, got a lot more experienced and made his Test debut in 1996. The rest is history. That proves my point.

The theory of waiting for a talented cricketer to perform for a period of two to three years is the best way to provide proper apprenticeship for him to succeed at the international level.

Q How important is the motivation factor?

A Today one person may not motivate another. There is so much at stake for the cricketers and that, by itself, is enough motivation.

Q Are you setting your sights high as a coach?

A I always take one thing at a time. I would also not think about two years down the line from now. I always focus on the job at hand. Maybe because I believe what you do today will decide your tomorrow.


Calcutta, Oct. 21: 
Bengal laboured to a four-wicket win over Tripura in the under-19 inter-state one-dayer at the Eden today. The first edition of this meet aims to spot talent for the junior World Cup coming up next year.

Having lost the toss, the hosts bowled out Tripura for just 113 in 48.1 overs. Victory, however, didn’t come easy and it took a 39-run, unfinished seventh-wicket stand between captain Aranya Deb Sarkar and Avik Chowdhury to see Bengal through with 6.2 overs to spare.

Earlier, Biswambhar Singh Raut, who came in at No. 9, and last man Jayanta Debnath added 40 for the last wicket to take Tripura past the 100-mark. Chowdhury was the most successful bowler, taking three for 12 from 5.1 overs.

BRIEF SCORES: Tripura 113 in 48.1 ovs (Biswambhar Singh Raut 27, Jayanta Debnath 20; Avik Chowdhury 3/12, Soujan Biswas 2/12). Bengal 114/6 in 43.4 ovs (Aranya Deb Sarkar 43 n.o., Chowdhury 21 n.o.; Raut 2/9, Tushar Saha 2/23, Sunil Gupta 2/20). Bengal won by 4 wkts.

Saikia’s allround show

An all round show by Khanin Saikia (79 runs and three wickets) helped Assam trounce Bihar by 136 runs in another East Zone tie in Jamshedpur today.

Assam recovered from 83 for seven to make 211 for nine and in reply, Bihar were skittled out for 75.

BRIEF SCORES: Assam 211/9 in 50 ovs (Khanin Saikia 79; Sujit Roy 3/45). Bihar 75 in 31.4 ovs (Sandeep Vig 34). Assam won by 136 runs.


Calcutta, Oct. 21: 
If those in the know are to be believed, the filling-up of “contentious” slots in the Indian Test squad for South Africa is “pretty open”.

What is interesting, though, is that The Telegraph sources have indicated veteran wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia ought not to be written off. Mongia has been out of favour for seven months now.

Also, that fellow-tribesman Samir Dighe should not be treated as a has-been. Dighe, it may be recalled, was dropped after the recent Sri Lanka tour, with his place being taken by Deep Dasgupta.

Till the other day, Deep was not exactly on weak ground, but captain Sourav Ganguly’s strong comments in East London have definitely changed equations.

Incidentally, there is much “confusion” over who should go as opener No. 3.

The squad’s selection is billed for Tuesday, in Mumbai.


Calcutta, Oct. 21: 
Rahil Gangjee warded off a superb fightback by Mukesh Kumar to bag his first professional title at the HT Pro Golf 2001 meet in Lucknow today.

The city golfer, who turned pro recently, tallied an impressive 16-under 268 at the par-71 course, according to information received here. It made him richer by Rs 97,2000.

Mukesh finished two strokes behind at 14-under 270. Calcutta’s S.S.P. Chowrasia was third at nine-under 275 and Vijay Kumar fourth with eight-under 276. Rohtas Singh finished fifth at 279, followed by Firoz Ali at 280.

“This is the best moment of my life,” said Gangjee. “I was certain I would win when I started off today. I did not expect such a fightback from Mukesh.”

Mukesh came close on at least two occasions, but Gangjee held his nerve, coming up with some fine shots including a chipped-in effort for eagle on the 16th.

“I had my ups and downs today. Particularly on the back-nine, when I hit the water hazard with my tee shot on the tenth. Mukesh was one stroke behind at that time,” Gangjee said.

Gangjee’s final round of three-under 68 contained — other than his eagle on the 16th — birdies on the first, fourth, ninth and 12th and bogeys on the eighth, tenth and 17th. “I feel great. I have more than achieved the goals I set for myself this season,” he said.


Calcutta, Oct. 21: 
India’s success in junior World Cup hockey can largely be attributed to the number of players with experience at the senior level, feels Baljit Singh Saini — captain of the team which finished runners-up in the previous edition of the meet at Milton Keynes in 1997.

The senior India midfielder added the difference between this crop of juniors and the one led by him is the presence of penalty corner specialist Jugraj Singh. The city-bred player also feels India have prevailed because the big teams at the senior level are not paying attention to their younger players.

“Primarily, players with experience at the senior level have made the difference,” Saini told The Telegraph from Jalandhar today. “Just myself and Dilip Tirkey had represented senior India when we lost the final in 1997. This team had Deepak Thakur, Gagan Ajit and Bimal Lakra among the 10-12 who knew how it is at the higher level. Their presence made a big difference. Also, my team didn’t have a good penalty-corner striker.”

Saini thinks today’s success in Hobart should serve as a shot in the arm for Indian hockey. “This is our biggest achievement since the 1998 Asian Games gold and the federation’s ploy to blood youngsters after that has clicked. It should stand us in good stead for the forthcoming senior World Cup.”

Saini feels the mentality of these players would have a positive impact on the senior team. “Whenever they take the field after today, they’ll feel they can beat the best. The belief that we can also win is very important for a player.

“This will also keep the established ones on their toes as they’ll feel others are ready to snatch their place. Of course, today’s success will inspire the seniors to excel as well.”

Saini thinks the best part of India’s success is that they overcame two of the big teams. “We beat Germany, Holland and lost to Australia. Nobody can say we had an easy draw… In any case, there’s nothing called an easy draw in a World Cup. Even Pakistan failed to qualify,” he pointed out. However, he was quick to note that the difference between the senior and junior level is vast and only time will tell whether this young lot would take India back to the glory days.


Calcutta, Oct. 21: 
Vinod Sewa beat younger brother Manoj 6-3, 6-2 in the men’s singles final of the Calcutta Hardcourt tennis championships at South Club today.

Reedhina Parekh took the women’s title with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Sujata Karnani.

Ram Kumar and Dhruv Kumar won the doubles crown, overcoming Ajay Singh and Bhagirath Kumar 6-4, 6-3.

Mohammed Imran took the under-10 mixed singles title with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Ranvir Srivatsava.

Chaturvedi scholarship

Ranjan Prasad became the first recipient of the scholarship given by the Amit Chaturvedi Trust Fund. Prasad finished first in the under-12 section and second in under-14 in the Calcutta Hardcourt meet. He will receive Rs 5000 in four instalments. The Trust has been formed in memory of Amit — the former state No. 1 — who passed away recently.

State junior billiards

Mudit Poddar, J.S. Shaw and Saurav Kothari reached the state junior billiards semi-finals at Bengal Rowing Club today. Mudit beat A. Kejriwal 392-117, Shaw defeated A. Surana 257-128, while Saurav overcame Anurag Bagri 438-215.

Kashi best

Kashi Vidyapith emerged champion in the inter-university kabaddi championship in Kalyani today. In the final at Kalyani University, they beat Calcutta University 61-16.


Mysore, Oct. 21: 
Lifting spirits of the local turfites and giving the much needed boost to the RCTC racing, Ansbach, the city-based colt owned by Deepak Khaitan, won the 2,000m Kingfisher Mysore Derby at the Mysore races on Sunday, the concluding day of the season. Ridden by Aslam Kader, the Derby-victory for the Vijay Singh trained three-year-old, by Alnasr Alwasheek-Pass The Secret, was worth a shade over Rs 21 lakh. Ansbach had won the 2,000 Guineas last month. The 20-Day season was dominated by Robert Foley who emerged as the champion trainer with 29 winners. B. Prakash topped the jockeys’ table with 25 wins.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. D. H. Dasappa Memorial Cup, Div-II 1,400m: (9-2-7) Solar Power (I. Imran) 1; Fingers Crossed 2; Cat Catcher 3. Won by: 3; 6-1/2; (1-28.2). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 11; 11; 48; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 198. Fav: Fingers Crossed (2).

2. D. Sivappa Memorial Gold Cup, Div-II 1,200m: (2-8-7) Octane (Bhagwat) 1; Swiss Knife 2; Laplander 3. Not run: Formal Gold (11). Won by: Nk; 3/4; (1-15.9). Tote: Win Rs 369; Place: 64; 37; 12; Quinella: 2,169; Tanala: 6,651. Fav: Laplander (7).

3. D. H. Dasappa Memorial Cup, Div-I 1,400m: (3-2-9) Straight Arrow (Prakash) 1; Aegis 2; Silver Falcon 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 1-1/4; (1-28.1). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 12; 12; 20; Quinella: 31; Tanala: 133. Fav: Straight Arrow (3).

4. D. Sivappa Memorial Gold Cup, Div-I 1,200m; (10-1-11) Russian Art (Md Shafiq) 1; Bigshow 2; Bacardi Star 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-15.3).Tote: Win Rs 138; Place: 31; 14; 24; Quinella: 308; Tanala: 5,866. Fav: Great Splendour (7).

5. Seetharam Mudaliar Memorial Trophy 1,600m: (10-11-7) Arterial (Appu) 1; Crystal Delight 2; Attune 3.Not run: Love And Honor (3). Won by: 2-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-39.2). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 13; 26; 24; Quinella: 213; Tanala: 1,457. Fav: Affined (8).

6. Bangalore Turf Club Trophy 1,400m: (8-7-9) Scenic Bay (Abraham) 1; Earl Grey 2; Estocade 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; (1-25.5). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 19; 17; 33; Quinella: 88; Tanala: 842. Fav: Earl Grey (7).

7. Kingfisher Mysore Derby 2,000m: (7-9-1-2) Ansbach (Kader) 1; Nairn (Appu) 2; Starsky (Prakash) 3; Antequera (Shroff) 4. Won by: 3/4; 2; 1-3/4; (2-7.1). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 12; 17; 14; Quinella: 47; Tanala: 165. Fav: Ansbach (7).

8. R. M. Puttanna Memorial Gold Cup, Div-I 1,200m: (4-7-6) Sunchaser (Ramesh) 1; Abridge 2; Pristine Beauty 3. Won by: 3/4; 5; (1-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 12; 13; 20; Quinella: 27; Tanala: 145. Fav: Sunchaser (4).

9. R. M. Puttanna Memorial Gold Cup, Div-III 1,200m: (11-4-1) Dilmerub (Suresh) 1; Delarose 2; Rasna 3. Not run: Honest Princess (5). Won by: SH; Nk; (1-15.7). Tote: Win Rs 988; Place: 124; 19; 16; Quinella: 7,130; Tanala: 29,288. Fav: Rebel With A Cause (8).

10. R. M. Puttanna Memorial Gold Cup, Div-II 1,200m: (1-5-8) Blue Gardenia (Appu) 1; Starstruck 2; Diamond Rock 3. Not run: Jennifer (10). Won by: SH; 4; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 16; 13; 21; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 510. Fav: Starstruck (5).

Jackpot: Rs 3,18,934 (Carried over); (C) Rs 20,503.

Treble: (i) Rs 30,610 (C.o); (ii) Rs 266; (iii) Rs 35,085.


Pune, Oct. 21: 
Shanillo, a friendless horse from Dallas Todywalla’s yard, posted an easy victory in the Multirosa Trophy in Pune on Sunday. S. Shinde partnered the four-year-old by Conquering Hero out of Mistral’s Love.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Own Beauty Plate 1,000m: (1-7-4) Draculla (Sunil) Charging Bullet 2; Chittor 3. Won by: SH; 1-3/4; (1-3.1). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 11; 49; 18; Quinella: 276; Tanala: 2,075. Fav: Val Rouge (3).

2. Allez Venus Plate 1,000m: (4-6-1) Blue Nile (Rajendra) 1; Tactful 2; Amaranza 3. Won by: 4-3/4; SH; (1-3.2). Tote: Win Rs 55; Place: 15; 13; 11; Quinella: 64; Tanala: 304. Fav: Amaranza (1).

3. Roccobarocco Plate 1,400m: (6-2-1) Mia Senora (S. N. Chavan) 1; Riboletta 2; Celtic Son 3. Won by: Nk; 6-1/2; (1-29.8). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 17; 12; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 153. Fav: Riboletta (2).

4. Stunning Plate 1,200m: (5-9-11) Jaannisar (S. Naik) 1; Infuriate 2; Park Royal 3. Not run: Money Magic (10). Won by: 1/2; 1-1/4; (1-14.2). Tote: Win Rs 53; Place: 22; 19; 13; Quinella: 159; Tanala: 746. Fav: Park Royal (11).

5. Multirosa Trophy 1,600m: (1-2-3) Shanillo (S. Shinde) 1; Sun Charmer 2; Centenary 3. Won by: 1-1/2; Nk; (1-43.3). Tote: Win Rs 331; Place: 45; 17; 16; Quinella: 907; Tanala: 9,765. Fav: Royal Engagement (4).

6. Moondaisy Plate 1,800m: (6-1-5) Astaire (J. Chinoy) 1; Adam’s Delight 2; Saphire Princess 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 2-1/4; (1-57.2). Tote: Win Rs 367; Place: 78; 24; 21; Quinella: 955; Tanala: 10,650. Fav: Epic Queen (3).

7.Golden Horn Plate 1,000m: (2-3-6) Magic Honey (Bhagwan) 1; Triple Charm 2; Imperial Falcon 3. Not run: Spring Snow (15). Won by: 6; 1; (1-1.4). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 16; 18; 35; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 617. Fav: Magic Honey (2).

Jackpot: Rs 92,440 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 7,375; (ii) Rs 33,987.


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