India’s new pace trio all set to deliver
India hope to get back to business at home
We have to stay focussed, says Hussain
Sourav denies criticising selectors
Bengal on top after Day III
Port, Police AC in semis
Mumbai Racing/ The Proletarian wins thriller
Track trials
Calcutta Races/Seven events in Wednesday card

Mohali, Dec. 2: 
Two of them deserved a break at least a couple of seasons ago while the other was a bit surprised after being picked for the national squad.

Iqbal Siddiqui, Sanjay Bangar and Tinu Yohannan arrived in Chandigarh on the same flight with the English side from New Delhi — only to be mistaken by the hotel staff as fans. Timely intervention by officials of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), though, prevented further problems.

Bangar, the unsung Railways seamer, may have got the break a bit too late at 29, but is viewing it as “a big opportunity.”

“If I’m successful I deserve all the adulation and if I fail I still can’t blame anyone,” Bangar told The Telegraph last evening.

It was his steely determination along with the encouragement and support he received from coach Vinod Sharma that has played a vital part in his career. “He has stood by me through the good and bad times. I have also at times got an extended run at Railways. The team has stuck by me even during bad patches,” he recalled.

Bangar has learnt to take things philosophically. “It’s been a gradual development. I can’t say whether I should have got the chance, say, four years ago. I think the break has come at the right time since I’m more equipped to handle things now.”

Besides the medium pace, Bangar’s ability to bat will add depth to the side with his fielding being a bonus. In 56 matches in the domestic circuit thus far, he has taken 84 wickets, besides scoring 3112 runs.

Having been with the Railways for the last eight years, he was finally picked after his five-wicket haul for Board President’s XI against England in the second innings in Hyderabad. “This is a stage to perform and I’m very much aware of the needs,” he said.

Iqbal Siddiqui, the jovial and articulate Maharashtra seamer, at 26 is the most experienced among the lot. Into his tenth domestic season he is indebted to three persons who have played a vital role in his life — uncle N.Y. Ansari, Maharashtra bowling coach Anwar Sheikh and Minhaz Khan.

Having risen from the dusty fields of Aurangabad, he was confident of making it big. “I knew the chance would come and that was my motivation. I have learnt to take success and failures in my stride.

“I have bowled all along on unhelpful pitches and know how difficult it is to take wickets. It doesn’t matter at what level of cricket I’m playing — the intent will always be to take wickets,” said Siddiqui who has so far taken 236 wickets in 69 matches and has been in fine form this season. Only ten days earlier he took nine wickets versus Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, a match which Maharashtra ultimately lost.

For someone who was adjudged Man-of-the-Series for the India Youth team during their tour of England in 1994, 18 wickets in three Tests, the moment of reckoning has come a bit too late.

Now that he has to perform is the pressure building up? “I don’t let pressure affect me and instead like to apply it on the batsmen,” the Grade I officer with Indian Oil says confidently.

He feels he is always in a fight with himself, always wanting to make a point. “I set my goals, try to achieve it and don’t draw any motivation from anyone,” he declares with pride.

Yohannan, 22, the robust quickie has recovered from his initial surprise and is now “confident about delivering”. The Kochi boy hails from a sporting background, his father the legendary high jumper T.C. Yohannan being the driving force behind his rise. “He took me to cricket when I was 12 and arranged for his training at MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai under T.A. Sekar.

Into his second season, it’s been quite eventful — 24 wickets in eight matches. What has been Sekar’s advice before the big day? “Ball normally. Stick to the basics and don’t try anything extra,” says Yohannan.

It’s now upto Yohannan and the rest to deliver.


Mohali, Dec. 2: 
Thank you Jagmohan Dalmiya and Malcolm Speed (or should we thank Mike Denness!) for all the drama and excitement. The India-England series would never have enthused so much of interest, after the home team’s drubbing in South Africa, had not the BCCI-ICC stand off till 72 hours before the Test sparked a renewal of national sentiments, an emotional tidal wave that rallied behind the team.

All’s well that ends well and the series is set to be launched in all earnest here tomorrow.

The hosts are making a dispirited return from a drubbing in South Africa, their concentration somewhat impaired by the conflict between the BCCI and the ICC. “Let’s get on with the game,” was what Sourav Ganguly said today.

The mental aspect apart, the players did look a bit jaded at practice having traversed from one end of the globe to the other to cope with the taxing demands of international cricket. But behind it all, lies a sense of optimism stemming from India’s fabulous home record and the visitors’ inexperienced and untested bowling attack, sans Darren Gough and Andy Caddick.

“We have a good record at home and hope to continue in the same vein,” said an optimistic Sourav.

Nasser Hussain, too, was phlegmatic. “Our attack is balanced for all eventualities. The fact is of inexperience and it is to be seen how people live upto the pressures.”

India’s new-look pace attack, too, is bound to come under the scanner in conditions that will aid lateral movement — the Englishmen believe it will seam here, if anywhere in India. If England can sneak a victory here, it will allow them to cling on for dear life on dusty pitches in Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

The pitch, which has a fair sprinkling of grass, was enough to send jitters down the Indian spines. The feeling of discontent was all too visible in some of the players’ faces. But the hardness has always been a salient feature of the Mohali wicket.

“The entire square has been relaid since the last Test here versus New Zealand,” informed curator Daljit Singh. “It will seam on the first day and batting will not be easy. No match has been played on this surface during the current season. The spinners can reap some rewards only towards the end,” he added.

Not leaving anything to chances, Sourav and Sachin Tendulkar indulged in a session with the plastic ball to do some ‘shadow’ against the rising deliveries.

The selectors’ insistence on fresh blood — Iqbal Siddiqui, Sanjay Bangar and Tinu Yohannan — at the expense of experience could prove fatal if Andrew Flintoff and Craig White can make early inroads into the Indian top-order. One Dion Nash had ripped through the much-vaunted batting line-up with a seven-wicket haul on the opening day of the Test two seasons back.

It is here that the experience of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra could have come in handy. “It’s a good opportunity. Now it’s upto them to grab a chance,” was how Sourav put it.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the hosts are likely to go in with a three-pronged pace attack. All three quickies will then get a chance to make their debut.

Sarandeep Singh, Connor Williams and Jacob Martin — replacement for Virender Sehwag, who has been practising with the team here — will have to sit out. The dropping of Williams will mean experimenting with the opening combination once more. The team management is toying with the idea of opening the batting with Bangar, the Railways allrounder who has opened in Ranji Trophy.

Another school of thought feels that it will be asking for too much from the rookie in his debut Test. Deep Dasgupta may then be pushed to do the needful once more.

The one big factor leading to India’s slump has been the spinners coming a cropper in South Africa. Coach John Wright admitted after the game in Centurion that the inability of the tweakers to turn the ball was the biggest factor in undoing the team’s effort on the tour. But home conditions always instil fresh enthusiasm and craftsmanship among our spinners. For Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble it will be a big test to assert their supremacy.

The visitors have ruled out an unfit Ashley Giles, Warren Hegg and Usman Afzaal from the XVII. To play an extra spinner or include another medium pacer, seems to be the option they are working on.

All said and done, the key to the course of the Test will be how the rival teams apply themselves to the conditions on the opening day.


INDIA (likely): S. S. Das, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Sanjay Bangar, Deep Dasgupta, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Iqbal Siddiqui, Tinu Yohannan.

ENGLAND (likely): Mark Butcher, Marcus Trescothick, Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Mark Ramprakash, Andrew Flintoff, Craig White, James Foster, Richard Dawson, James Ormond/Richard Johnson/Martyn Ball/Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard.

Umpire: S. Venkatraghavan and Steve Bucknor.

Match Referee: Denis Lindsay.


Mohali, Dec. 2: 
Only hours away from playing his first Test in the country of his birth, Nasser Hussain seemed a bit emotional.

“Obviously I’m very proud and been having special feelings since arriving in India. They’ve been very friendly towards me and I’ve loved every minute of my stay,” the England captain said.

Even in this personal sentiments, he did not forget to sound out a note of warning to his teammates. Like Hussain, all will be playing their first Test on Indian soil.

“Even the Australians hadn’t found the conditions easy. It’s going to be the same for this new side.

“Obviously we aren’t best equipped against India at home with their experience on these pitches and the crowd. The Indians are the best at home as the Australians found out the hard way. It’s not an easy task, make no mistake about that. Forget what’s happened in South Africa and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them,” the English captain said.

He added: “Discipline is important to succeed in the subcontinent. We’ve seen that from the opposition and ourselves in the last three preparatory games leading up to the Test. We’ve become better and better. You can bowl two/three loose deliveries in an over elsewhere but in this part of the world, you have got to be focused all the time and stick to a plan.”

He said everyday has been a “learning experience”. “Whether it be from the opposition or based on our own experiences, we’ve been learning everyday — for example, how to play spin on these turning pitches. The tour has been an eye opener for some of our lads.”

Hussain did not wish to ponder on India’s strengths. “The Indians have their own strengths. I have never been really worried about the opposition. It will not be fair of me to comment on their strengths. I can only hope they don’t do well here!” he quipped.


Mohali, Dec. 2: 
Sourav Ganguly today denied having spoken out against the selectors voicing his discontent over the squad for the first Test against England.

“I remember only saying that the selectors never consulted me. The rest what has appeared is untrue. The remarks have been made up by the media. I never said such things,” said the Indian captain today.

He voiced his full faith in the rookie pacers, picked for the side.

Sourav’s clarification seems to have ended a major controversy with the selectors following the dropping of Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan.

Jawagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad opted out because of injuries.


Calcutta, Dec. 2: 
Though Bengal’s hopes for a substantial first innings lead were dashed when they were dismissed for 299 today, they did well to restrict Assam to 147 for six in a East Zone Ranji Trophy tie at the Eden.

Utpal Chatterjee and Sourashish Lahiri shared the spoils.

The day was particularly special for Utpal, who claimed his 318th Ranji wicket for Bengal, equalling Dilip Doshi’s record.

With Assam less than 100 runs ahead with only four wickets in hand, Bengal could well be in line for their first outright victory in years over a team other than Zone minnows Tripura.

Earlier, resuming at his overnight 76, Humza Ferozie managed to add just six before being caught by Sumit Ranjan Das off Ganesh Kumar.

After his departure, left-arm off-spinner Sukhwinder Singh ran through the Bengal lower order. He snapped up the wickets of Saikat Mukherjee (31), Utpal, Lahiri and Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

The Bengal innings folded up soon after lunch, with a mere 50-run lead. Assam’s Delhi recruit Sukhwinder finished with six for 73 from 28.5 overs.

Assam’s second innings got off to a brisk start with Parag Das (83) hitting the Bengal seamers all over the park. He put on 96 for the first wicket with captain Subhrajit Saikia, before the latter was caught by Nikhil Haldipur off Lahiri.

Assam, who went into tea at 96 for one, lost five wickets in the last session. Zulfikar Zuffri, who then joined Das was caught by Lahiri off his own bowling for a duck.

It was time for the wily Utpal to step into the act. As in the first innings, the left-arm orthodox spinner continued with his miserly line, inducing the batsmen to come on to the front foot. His first victim of the second innings — Manoj Joglekar trapped leg before.

Assam were dealt a body blow when Das was caught and bowled by Lahiri.

After the explosive opener’s departure, none of the Assam batsmen could stick around for a considerable period of time as wickets fell regularly.


Calcutta, Dec. 2: 
Calcutta Port Trust Sports Council (C.P.T.S.C) and Police A.C. reached the semi-finals of the Eveready 21st senior state basketball meet today.

RESULTS: C.P.T.S.C. bt Barisha A.C. 60-45, Police A.C. bt Howrah Distt. 53-35, B.B.Y.S bt Calcutta Good Counsel 50-23, South 24 Pgs. bt Barisha A.C. 57-45.

University football

M.G. Kashi Vidyapith and Veer Kanwar University won their respective matches at the East Zone inter-university football meet for men today.

RESULTS: M.G.Kashi Vidyapith bt Sidhu Kanoo 2-1, Veer Kanwar bt D.D.U. Gorakhpur 4-1, Manipur bt Vidyasagar 3-0, North Orissa bt B.N.Mandal 3-1, Magadh vs I.G.Krishi (I.G.Krishi got walkover as Magadh absent).

Floodlit tennis

Tanya Ahuja, Moni Sewa, Devanshi Rajgarhia, Shivika Burman, Saba Ali, Karina Ahuja, Richa Valechha and Sharmishtra Chaudhuri today won their matches in the pre-quarter finals of the girls’ singles under-18 category of the floodlit tournament being held at the Saturday Club.    

Mumbai, Dec. 2: 
In a desperately close finish that involved five of the 17 horses in fray to win the 1,600m A. C. Ardeshir Trophy, The Proletarian accounted for Ocean Breeze by the shortest of margin at the Mumbai races on Sunday. Rajinder partnered the Imtiaz Sait-trained four-year-old by Conquering Hero out of Nica Libre. Pleasures, Adamile and Perceived Value were the other horses in the photo-finish. Sait also saddled two more winners — Austral in the Aerobica Plate and Victory March in the La Bonne Vie Plate. However,C. Rajendra was the only jockey to have scored a double.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Nymph Plate 2,000m: (2-4-1) Centenary (Rajendra) 1; Perfect Storm 2; Loretta 3. Won by: Dist; 2-1/2; (2-13.3). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 23; Quinella: 20; Tanala: 57. Fav: Centenary (2).

2. Aerobica Plate 1,600m: (6-2-5) Austral (C. Alford) 1; Secret Obsession 2; Top’m All 3. Not run: Danger Zone (4). Won by: 4-3/4; 1-1/2; (1-44.3). Tote: Win Rs 106; Place: 29; 20; Quinella: 162; Tanala: 2,021. Fav: Mia Senora (3).

3. J. Rustomji Soparivala Trophy 1,000m: (4-3-5) Divine Honey (McCullagh) 1; Divine Elegance 2; Forest Angel 3. Won by: 9; Hd; (1-2). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 11; 25; 12; Quinella: 117; Tanala: 258. Fav: Forest Angel (5).

4. Class Apart Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (1-2-4) Monte Carlo Magic (Kharadi) 1; Crisscross 2; Wild Love 3. Not run: Habit (6). Won by: 1-1/4; Dist; (1-15.1). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place; 12; 11; 37; Quinella: 15; Tanala: 120. Fav: Monte Carlo Magic (1).

5. Brijendra Plate 1,200m: (7-4-2) Cats Concert (Aadesh) 1; Cristina 2; Speculative 3. Won by: 1; 3; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 85; Place: 27; 30; 42; Quinella: 335; Tanala: 21,201. Fav: Divine Protocol (10).

6. Ziska Plate 1,400m; (11-9-7) Berliet (Kamlesh) 1; Spur of The Moment 2; Royal Standard 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1/2; (1-29). Tote: Win Rs 186; Place: 55; 70; 12; Quinella: 2,433; Tanala: 72,252. Fav: Prince of Fashion (3).

7. A. C. Ardeshir Trophy 1,600m: (5-14-9) The Proletarian (Rajinder) 1; Ocean Breeze 2; Pleasures 3. Won by: SH; Nk; (1-39.6). Tote: Win Rs 82; Place: 28; 113; 24; Quinella: 2,155; Tanala: 11,422. Fav: Pleasures (9).

8. La Bonne Vie Plate 1,600m: (3-5-2) Victory March (Rajendra) 1; Bryce Canyon 2; Altazano 3. Not run: Natural Spark (6). Won by: 3-3/4; 5; (1-40.7). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 15; 11; 20; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 364. Fav: Bryce Canyon (5).

9. Class Apart Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (1-8-9) Bud Royale (Z. Sayyed) 1; Las Mareas 2; Neomi 3. Won by: 7; 2-3/4; (1-14.6). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 25; 38; Quinella: 117; Tanala: 878. Fav: Bud Royale (1).

Jackpot: Rs 40,616; (C) Rs 12,185.

Treble: (i) Rs 263; (ii) Rs 3,430; (iii) Rs 553.

Calcutta, Dec. 2: 
The following horses were seen working today:

Outer sand track

800m: Colonial (Som S.) in 1-4s; (400m) 33s.Very easy.

600m: Abandoned (Brij S.) in 41s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Countach (V. Jaiswal) in 40s; (400m) 26s Fit. Illustrious Reign (Brij S.) in 42s; (400m) 26s. Easy.

Sand track

1,600m: Splendid King (Upadhya) and Star Cavalier (Connorton) in 1-47s; (400m) 27s. Former a length better after starting 10 ls ahead. Latter was pushed. Argolis (Upadhya) and Soviet Dance (Connorton) in 1-54s; (400m) 28s. Former 2 ls better.

1,000m: Merano (Rb) in 1-4s; (400m) 28s. Good.    

Calcutta, Dec. 2: 
There are seven events in Wednesday race-card. The first race starts at 12.35 pm.


1. Metal Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 12.35 pm: Flamebird 61; April Ace 58.5; Red Cordon 56.5; Tequila Shot 56.5; Sencai 55; Acklins 53.5; Tiger Talk 52; Black Mane 51.5.

2. Spook Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 18 & below) 1.10 pm: Lady Shirley 60; Rare Orchid 60; Wild Is The Wind 60; Fencai 59; Abandoned 57.5; Gul 57; Noor Aliya 56.5; Blessed Spirit 55; Calculus 50.5; Victoria Rose 49.5.

3. Canny Scot Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over Rt. 22-50) 1.50 pm: Spanish Drum’s 60; Beau Bruno 59.5; Bul Bul 58; Santa Monica 57; Constantine 56; Glass Slipper 54.5; Brave Show 53; Chivalrous 53; Floral Path 50.5; Heaven’s Blessing 50.5.

4. Maharajadhiraja Uday Chand Mahtab of Burdwan Memorial Cup 2,000m (Cl I; Cl II eligible Rt. 66-94) 2.20 pm: Anolini 60; Colonial 57; Access All Areas 56; Arendal 54; Splendid King 51.

5. Manasseh Memorial Cup, Div-I 1,100m (Cl II, Rt. 66-94) 2.55 pm: Soviet Ride 60; Added Asset 57; Cup of Life 56.5; Accelerating Star 56; Arctic Fancy 55; Illustrious Reign 53.5; Alcalde 52.5; Pretty Boy Floyd 51.5; Aldebro 48.5.

6. Manasseh Memorial Cup, Div-II 1,100m (Cl II, Rt. 66-94) 3.25 pm: Gold Buck 60; Regal Rocket 59; Merano 58.5; Alkido 56; Addab 54; Sky Command 53; Ballet Master 50; Anokato 48.5.

7. Red Bay Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 4 pm: Gallant Romeo 60; Giorgio 59.5; Scarlet Raider 59.5; Aherlow 57.5; On The Bit 57; Tajik 57; Carbon Copy 56.5; Crucible 56.5; Excellent Striker 56.5; Midas Touch 56; Simply Monarch 54.5; Secret Adversary 53.5; Sadaf 53; Countach 51.5; Cosmic Flash late Cruel Intention 51; Azurica 50.5.

Jackpot: 3; 4; 5; 6 & 7.

Treble: (i) 2; 3 & 4; (ii) 5; 6 & 7.

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