Deep Dasgupta to open
Indian motorsport racing towards break-even
WB Police beat Bata 2-0
Bengal retain squad
Iíll accept whatever comes my way: Williams

Port Elizabeth,Nov. 13: 
The second Test, at St George’s Park here, is still three days away but if the look of the wicket today is an indication, a greentop awaits the Indi ans.

And, unless the look changes to brown ishgreen from greengreen, Sourav Gan guly and John Wright will be faced with the mother of all dilemmas:To field both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh (who missed the first Test), or omit the seasoned pro to accommodate three quicks.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Ajit Agarkar is .certain. to make a comeback,while Jawagal Srinath is an obvious choice. If three quicks are fielded, the third will (as of now) be Ashish Nehra. Zaheer Khan,highly unimpressive in Bloemfontein, is set to be dropped.

The bowling lineup isn.t the sole worry for the Indian captain and coach.As big a headache is who should part ner Shiv Sundar Das.Vicecaptain Rahul Dravid was given the job in Test No.1 but, as with the other matches when he has opened, he failed.Apparently,Dravid prefers going back to the middleorder.

If Dravid is to bat down where, admittedly, he has thousands of runs,somebody must step in.Yesterday, of course,Wright suggested either V.V.S.Laxman or even Deep Dasgupta could do the job. It seems , though, even Laxman isn.t keen on the role.

.Look,if it comes to that, I may myself open,.Sourav,a reg ular opener in ODIs, remarked this evening.The captain was dead serious when he made that comment.

Incidentally, there was light rain this morning, but that didn.t deter the Indians from having their first nets since the end of the Bloemfontein Test, a week ago. In fact,Wright did an Australia by getting the boys to work out in simulated match condi tions: In whites and out on St George’s Field No.2.

Later, the coach observed: .It’s so much better than just nets....Tomorrow, too, something similar is planned.

Meanwhile, the inform Jacques Ru dolph’s selection in the South African XII has led to considerable speculation. Speak ing exclusively, one of the national selec tors said: .I would say his chances of mak ing the XI are slim. But, if he does, it should be at Boeta Dippenaar’s expense..

Should Rudolph make his debut,he will probably bat at No.3 with Jacques Kallis at No.4 and Neil McKenzie at No. 5. It’s signif icant that Rudolph took a century off India in the last warmup game ahead of the recent triseries.

Pretty Port Elizabeth,by the way, is Mornantau Hay ward’s home turf and, so, he is familiar with just about everything at St George’s Park. In his opinion, the wicket .should do something..Talking during a break in the Eastern Province team’s workout, he added:.Much will also depend on the weather....

If the Met. Office is to be believed . unfortunately, such offices everywhere have pretty low credibility . there won.t be .any rain. after tomorrow.There will be many prayers that, for once, the forecast is spoton.

Late tonight, sources confirmed wicket keeper Deep Dasgupta will open with Shiv Sundar Das.


Calcutta, Nov. 13: 
Indian motorsport has achieved more from its active spon sors than from its squabbling officials in two quarrelsome national bodies. The bargain has been more than money: optimism and confidence, com modities too rare in most spheres of life today.

Thankfully, there is this other, rather intangible commodity, .visibili ty., that corporate bodies welcome as USP. Mostly, these result in mere adver tisements. However, sometimes there come companies who want to do a little more. MRF of Chennai the country’s tyre major, and JK Tyre, the flagship company of JK Industries, along with petroleum companies like Castrol, Cal tex, liquor major UB Group with its Kingfisher brand, and now even Ford India, have picked up tabs of the fledg ling motorsport ventures in the coun try.

Those have been the fundamentals, the abstract infrastructure, so to say. Products have been long in coming, and a Hari Singh or an N. Leelakrishnan in rallying (for the JK Tyre Rally Team or the MRF rally team, respectively) have not really added to the country’s motor sport .visibility. internationally. Even Maruti Udyog, the company whose cars (Esteems, mainly) form more than 90 per cent of rally cars today, took long in bothering to even homologise these products, a prerequisite for any stan dard circuit rally.

In India, interestingly, it has been the tyre companies and not the car man ufacturers who have taken up the cudg els for the sport.

JK Tyre, for example, has spent over Rs 15 crore on the sport in the country and, according to Sanjay Sharma, head of motorsport in the company, .over 40 per cent of all such recent expenditure has been in infrastructure.. That is bet ter news than mere good intentions: more tangible.

With the none to innocuous .rich man’s pastime. tag around its neck in this venture, the company desperately needed a product that could be market ed as an .investment..

It was necessary, because of the spend involved. With figures rising to Rs 5 crore per year and reaching around 25 per cent of the total ad spend of the company the arrival of Narain Karthikeyan came as a welcome breeze. The company head honchos put their heads together in search of the West Wind and a breakeven point for this venture. After all, subsi dising a venture that is not even a zerosum game is not too share holderfriendly in these tough times. That was in 1993.

A year later the UB Group pitched in with a good offering of around 40 per cent of goodwill equity in its Kingfisher brand. UB and Kingfish er has been the only In dian company and brand to have sponsored or held equity in any Formula One team. With Liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s personal inter est (he, too was a race driver of repute once), Kingfisher bought equi ty partnership in Team Benetton. The partner ship did not last long, but the company’s inter est stayed.

All this was well after JK Tyre’s moves such as inducting Brian Palmer, a UKborn tech nician from Malaysia, into the JK Rally Team. He still leads those tech nicians who deal in the nonengine servicing: suspensions, roll cages etc. He and another UK born technician (also Malaysia based), Patrick Roberts, have been around rally teams for over 18 years. They help prepare the cars, service the cars in press ing conditions et al.

That was supposed to launch Indian rally teams on the Asian chal lenge. Last year Hari Singh became the first ever Indian to win an FIA champi onship, the Asia Zone Rally champi onship. The problem was that rallying in this country has remained a low visi bility sport. The desired USP was miss ing.

Hence Karthikeyan. Even when In dians were still in the MarutiFiat Amassador age (with a dash of Daewoo, perhaps), Formula One often ruled liv ing room TV sets. That was too much adrenaline, and TV companies loved it as much as the young generation. It was real prime time material with proper world visibility.

Today, the consortium of JKKing fisher and Ford India (as well as some other firms) pool in to pay expenses amounting to around £ 3,40,000 for Karthikeyan.

If Karthikeyan does get through the tests and is allowed a seat in any team, his current sponsors will have to either become part sponsors of that team of take stake in the team’s equity. .We ex pect an expenditure of at least $ 2 to 3 million there,. Sharma says.

Then,when the contract is drawn up and signed, will it be Karthikeyan’s pay back time. Sharma believes the current consortium can break even in 2003, if the F1 barrier is broken, that is.

There are 22 drivers with the 11 F1 teams and each team also has another test driver. Even if Karthikeyan is ini tially initiated as a test driver, it will cover costs.

.In case Karthikeyan is a test driver, he will have time on his hands, with the cars being taken over by the main driv ers from Friday,. Sharma said. .Then it will be time for Plan A or Plan B. Plan A is his participation in the Formula 3000 support races, run along with the F1.He needs podium presence. If that does not materialise, Plan B is his current For mula Nippon, which is pretty much what Formula 3000 is. However, with Formula 3000 being closer to F1 activity, it is preferable..

Having finished among the top ten in his first year in Japan, Karthikeyan feels he should be podium material by next year.

Most importantly, it will be a path breaker. A breakeven will really pave the way for a professional treatment of the sport in this country. Then will fol low the likes of Parthiva Sureswaran, Karun Chandok or Asif Nazir.


Calcutta, Nov. 13: 
West Bengal Police kept their chances of earn ing a topfour berth alive, beating Bata 20 in the CFL first division group A.Dhruba Gopal Das scored the both goals at Mohun Bagan ground today.

In other group A encounters, Wari AC rode a double from Anir ban Sengupta to edge past Kalighat 21 while Milan Bithee beat Railw ay FC 10 through Debashish Roy’s strike. Achintya Akure scored the consolation goal for Kalighat.

Krishnendu coach

Former international Krish nendu Roy today was named Ben gal’s coach for the B.C. Roy Tro phy, starting December 15. In the IFA selection committee meeting sans its chairman Sukumar Sama jpati, who resigned from his post in protest, Krishnendu was unani mously chosen. He was earlier named Bengal’s assistant coach in the National Games.Teams for the B.C. Roy Trophy will be picked later this month.    

Calcutta, Nov. 13: 
Bengal retain ed their under19 Cooch Behar Tr ophy squad, that played the drawn match versus Orissa, against their upcoming tie with Sikkim. The threeday match will start at Eden Gardens from Thursday.

Meanwhile, start of the A.N. Ghosh Trophy has been delayed by a couple of days owing to bad conditions of the local grounds. The meet will now begin on No vember 21.


Port Elizabeth, Nov. 13: 
With rain greeting the Indians on arrival in East London last Thursday, Baroda’s Connor Williams began keeping fingers crossed. Having suffered hard because of the Chatsworth washout, the rookie special ist opener didn.t want a repeat at Buffalo Park.

As it turned out, the fourdayer in East London was abandoned on the third morning (yesterday) itself, after not a ball had been bowled on the first two days. Among the Indians, nobody was more disappointed than the 27year old.

As Williams is unlikely to find a berth in the two Tests that remain, he will end the South Africa tour without having played a single delivery outside nets. For this Godfearing southpaw, known to execute the straight and cover drives exceedingly well, it won.t be any thing less than a tragedy.

.I have to accept whatever comes my way... I do believe in destiny, but... I sup pose I.ll probably have to be content with the experience of hav ing been on tour with some of the biggest names,. the some what reticent Williams told The Telegraph this morn ing.

Williams, of course, didn.t wish to be remembered as a .passenger. when picked for the Test XVI after last month’s Irani Trophy, where he had scores of 143 and 83. .I was hopeful, but wasn.t absolutely confident of a callup. After all, there had been occasions when I had done well, but the selectors still hadn.t been impressed,. Williams remarked.

Incidentally, Williams. father Cecil (an allrounder) is a former Baroda cap tain and Williams has himself been coached by former India skipper D.K.Gaekwad, an institution in Baroda. In fact, he grew up idolising his father and, later, became a Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara fan.

According to Williams, he would bat in the middleorder till Kiran More (Baroda cap tain when he made his debut in 199596) suggested he open. .More felt I had the right tech nique and temperament. So, I gave it a try and,well, never re turned to the middleorder.. Williams. first callup of any kind was when he was picked for India A in 199899. Thereafter, though, he re mained on the fringe . till last month, that is. Obviously, Sadagopan Ramesh’s non availability made it easier.

.My job was to be wellpre pared and, so, I watched just about every ball of the trise ries and made notes about Shaun Pollock, specially. As I see it, one must be patient play ing him, as he is the epitome of disci pline where line and length is con cerned. Really, Pollock won.t allow you to attack,.Williams pointed out.

Williams won.t (as of now) get the chance to tackle them, but he felt taking on Mornantau Hayward and Makhaya Ntini .shouldn.t be a problem.. As he put it: .Both aren.t as disciplined as Pol lock, which means there will be balls to hit... My impression got confirmed in the first Test (Bloemfontein)..

Passionate about swimming, Williams also plays tennis (favourites being Big W champion Goran Ivanisevic and former No.1 Monica Seles). And, like most cricketers from the subconti nent, prefers un winding with music. .I.m partial to wards Hindi songs, but English ones are okay, too... Actually, anything that is easy on the ears,. Williams said, grin ning.

Outside sport and music, Williams .loves. sea food. On that front, at least, there has been no disappointment in these parts.

A first tour is never easy, more so when the ball continues to roll the other way, but Williams has been doing what ever he can to stay focussed. It’s natural that he misses his family (fa ther, mother Chetna and younger sister Namita) and, not surprisingly, much of his al lowance is going towards calls back home.

The calls, per haps, have made it easier for Williams to ac cept destiny’s hand. The good thing, however, is that he isn.t exactly walking with shoulders drooping. Some day, Williams. chance will come. .I.ll grab it with both hands,. he promised.

Till then, it’s the wait.


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