Indians spin back to winnings ways
I wasn’t out to prove a point, says Kumble
I was confident of wrapping it up today: Sourav
Sourav praises debutants
Big win for Suburban
Bengal settle for 5 points
Srinath, Sehwag back
ECB to consider sixth ODI
Bangalore Racing/ Flying Scotsman may be hard to toss
Calcutta Racing/ Track trials

 
 
INDIANS SPIN BACK TO WINNINGS WAYS 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Mohali, Dec. 6: 
There was no big display of enthusiasm or accomplishment on the faces of the Indians today. There was just this hint of camaraderie and sense of relief.

The English have never been too apt at handling spin. They are going to lose sleep over the next fortnight as well wondering how to deal with Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble and it would come as no surprise if the hosts manage a clean sweep. The primary target for the visitors over the next two Tests should be to ensure they go the distance after surrendering the first inside four days.

Nasser Hussain didn’t sound too optimistic of avoiding a whitewash. “It’s going to be hard,” was all he said.

The Indians are back to winning ways. It helps in breeding confidence and the 10-wicket victory, more importantly, will put the spinners in good stead after the humiliation in South Africa.

Harbhajan had done the trick in the first innings, and today it was Kumble’s turn to deliver. The pressure of failing to come good must have been weighing heavily on the mind of the leg-spinner, struggling with rhythm after the shoulder surgery.

The six-wicket haul — Kumble’s 17th return of five or more in Tests — stamped his class and effectiveness in home conditions. Bowling in tandem with Harbhajan (two for 59), he eased through the England middle-order with his repertoire of leg-break, top-spin and the occasional googly.

It was only a matter of time from the moment Tinu Yohannan removed Mark Butcher and Marcus Trescothick and the spinning duo took charge. If the spinners’ wily act did not suffice at times, the batsmen surrendered with injudicious shot selection.

There was no respite for England during the extended lunch session as they found the conditions too alien. Except for Graham Thorpe — once the top-order crumbled — the others just did not have the mental strength to stick around. They tried to wriggle out with some lusty hitting but that only made them live even more dangerously.

As Kumble pinned the batsmen to their crease with his fizzing over spin and probing line, Harbhajan troubled them with his bounce and turn.

Thorpe (62 off 121 balls, 8x4), the most experienced player among the present lot (69 Tests), did prove that use of feet and employing the sweep could be a way out but there was hardly anyone else to learn the lessons. They lacked in application and discipline. It was because of Thorpe that England managed to avoid an innings defeat.

Butcher started the slide after 43 minutes of sensible batting in the morning. A miscued pull off Yohannan landed in mid-wicket’s hands and a little later Trescothick fell to a similar shot, Iqbal Siddiqui diving well at fine leg to hold on to it.

Kumble then took charge, Hussain being his first victim. Thorpe and Ramprakash held on for 120 balls for a 72-run fourth wicket stand but that was the end of sensible batting. Kumble broke the partnership by picking up Ramprakash after lunch and dismissed Andrew Flintoff in the same over.

Yohannan once more generated pace and bounce and, at the same time, got the ball to seam. Siddiqui did show a lot of promise as an allrounder but his line and length need to be sorted out. Opening the innings for Shiv Sundar Das — who was rested after being hit on the back at short-leg — Siddiqui took just two balls to hit the winning runs.

The close-in fielding did provide enough support to the spinners but Deep Dasgupta’s wicketkeeping is increasingly coming under the scanner. The hundred as an opener will help keep his job for a while but he will have to improve on his collection.

Deep was often all at sea against Kumble and Harbhajan, and on the turning tracks in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, will find it even more difficult.

The positives that have emerged for India from this Test have been varied — the return to form of Harbhajan and Kumble the emergence of Yohannan and the batting of Deep. England’s problems, however, have been too many to offset India’s gains.

   

 
 
I WASN’T OUT TO PROVE A POINT, SAYS KUMBLE 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Chandigarh, Dec.6: 
With most of the players wanting tickets changed and others being badgered for T-shirts by the support staff, the Indian dressing room in Mohali actually was pretty chaotic. Anil Kumble, however, simply adjusted the ice-pack on his right shoulder and focussed on the vegetarian fare on offer.

Typically, Kumble was a picture of absolute calm. Nothing leaves him flustered and belated though it was, the lunch was definitely well-deserved. That over, the Man of the Match opted for a cup of tea before obliging dozens of autograph-seekers who had breached the otherwise high security.

Having missed over a year of international cricket owing to a shoulder injury and, then, surgery, Kumble thought it appropriate to dedicate his sterling comeback (at home) performance to the “many supporters.” Specifically, Kumble mentioned teammates, physio Andrew Leipus and wife Chetna.

Just a few weeks ago, Kumble was on the verge of being dropped (in South Africa) yet, this afternoon, he was back to being the country’s toast. “Feels good... Feels great... It’s always nice to perform, not to disappoint...” Kumble remarked, adding: “I wasn’t out to prove a point. In fact, what matters is how I myself feel not what others could be saying.”

And, when someone asked whether his bowling in the first Test was any different to South Africa, Kumble answered with a firm “no.” For the record, in the two (official) Tests, he had match figures of four for 155 in Bloemfontein and one for 89 in Port Elizabeth.

The 31-year-old Kumble, though, didn’t return either disappointed or frustrated. After all, what mattered most is his shoulder stood up to the ‘test’. “That I could bowl 50 overs in Bloemfontein (first innings) did much for my confidence... I then knew I could take on whatever the workload...”

Grinning, Kumble reminded he is a “positive” person and, so, can accept the good and the bad with little change in emotions. This one quality does separate him from many in the fraternity. It’s his USP.

Having bowled in tandem with Harbhajan Singh for the first time at home in many months, Kumble felt the intra-team “competition” encouraged both to give off their best. “If I don’t pick up five, Bhajji will...” he quipped. Incidentally, captain Sourav Ganguly answered in the affirmative when asked if the Kumble-Harbha-jan twosome was No.1 in contemporary cricket.

Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Kumble maintained the dismissal of Mark Ramprakash (leg-before for 28) gave “maximum satisfaction.” As he put it: “That wicket came at a crucial time... Was the breakthrough we then needed.”

So, what then contributes to his success?

Kumble’s response was a clinical: “The ability to maintain pressure and, just as important, the ability to stay calm...” Significantly, his Test tally stands at 289 — getting to 300 in this series itself is a distinct possibility.

   

 
 
I WAS CONFIDENT OF WRAPPING IT UP TODAY: SOURAV 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Chandigarh, Dec. 6: 
For wounds inflicted in South Africa, the English cricket team provides the perfect balm. That’s how the India-script unfolded in 1992-93, at the Eden Gardens. Today, there was a repeat in nearby Mohali.

Sure, the characters have changed. Little else, though.

Indeed, going by the ease with which Sourav Ganguly’s India carved the ten-wicket victory (11 minutes after the scheduled tea break on Day-IV), this three-Test series may go exactly the same way as the one nine years ago: A 3-0 verdict.

More than the drubbing purely statistically, England were comprehensively beaten in the mind. It’s this recovery which takes time and, more often than not, the doubts tend to grow. Frankly, a three-Test series allows little opportunity to stage a comeback. Grab every chance, or else, rue for life.

Earlier this year, the all-conquering Australians found themselves stopped at the proverbial Last Frontier. For the Englishmen, India quite clearly is the toughest frontier. Saqlain Mushtaq was neutralised in Pakistan, as was Muttiah Muralidharan in Sri Lanka. Thus far, Nasser Hussain’s men have found the Anil Kumble-Harbhajan Singh twosome much too mysterious.

In what must rank a slip-up on the psychological front, England coach Duncan Fletcher recently spoke of Kumble emerging “the most successful bowler.” He certainly did in the first Test, finishing with eight for 133 — including the Man of the Match award-winning six for 81 in the second innings. Harbhajan had seven victims, five coming in innings No.1.

Fifteen wickets to the spinners, then, on a pitch which wasn’t ever menacing. Incidentally, Kumble, whose middlename may well be ‘Mr Modest’, played his first Test at home after the one against South Africa way back in March last year.

“Our mental preparation will have to be better... Our batsmen will have to use their head more... And, well, we won’t have either a Kumble or a Harbhajan helping out by bowling at nets,” acknowledged Hussain, not forgetting to mention the PCA Stadium wicket was among the “finest” he had played on.

But, then, the Chennai-born Hussain isn’t the type to offer excuses. In any case, Hussain must be aware that finding fault with external elements, instead of within, only makes the hoping-to-recover climb that much more demanding.

Sourav, who took to the Test with misgivings about the selection (specifically, he was cut up over not being consulted), found himself the winning captain with more than a day to spare.

“Yes, I was confident we would wrap it up today itself,” he told The Telegraph, briefly suggesting he wished to dedicate his seventh win (14 Tests) to somebody in particular. Sourav, though, quickly had a rethink and said: “No... I’m not dedicating it to anybody.”

Reflecting, Sourav opined Harbhajan’s spell (7.3 - 3 - 6 - 5) after tea on the first day was the turning point. In fact, at one stage, England were a comfortable 200 for three before crashing to 238 all out. Cricket has much to do with making the most of opportunities. England forgot this one essential.

Of course, what made the biggest difference was India’s first innings lead of 231 — thanks to centurion Deep Dasgupta, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav’s collective effort. Kumble’s 37 as nightwatchman, too.

Even a small lead provides a reasonable cushion for bowlers. A lead as significant as India’s finishes the opposition. Simply put, it has that steamroller effect.

While the spotlight for now is all on Kumble, it will be unfair to not give debutant quick Tinu Yohannan his share of the credit. If not anything else, this promising youngster has ensured he won’t be as quickly forgotten as, say, a Thiru Kumaran.

The second Test, in Ahmedabad, begins December 11.

   

 
 
SOURAV PRAISES DEBUTANTS 
 
 
FROM INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Mohali, Dec. 6: 
It was time to push the disappointments of South Africa behind. A deserving ten-wicket victory with a day to spare had given the team a well-earned break. “Most of us have been at home for only a day after the South Africa tour. We would like to go back and relax for a couple of days more before regrouping in Ahmedabad,” was how a relaxed Sourav Ganguly put it.

While Sourav felt “winning the first Test of a series is always helpful”, John Wright said the win was “good for the team as we didn’t have much time to think about the series on return from South Africa”.

Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, the architects of today’s win, hogged the limelight and the Indian captain was all praise for them. “They are possibly the best pair of spinners in the world now. Bowling in tandem they complement each other very well,” he said.

With the wickets likely to assist the spinners even more in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, Sourav hoped for the best. “The soil is different there and it should turn. We should do well.”

Sourav and Wright were all praise for Man of the Match Kumble. “He bowled exceedingly well. A lot of players have come back strongly from shoulder injury. I was confident Kumble would do well too,” Sourav said.

“The wickets should boost his confidence and will help him to regain his style of bowling,” added the coach. Wright also felt Harbhajan’s spell after tea on the first day when he claimed five wickets “gave the team the momentum” and put them “in a winning situation”.

“We haven’t played spinners of the calibre of Kumble and Harbhajan before. We knew it was going to be difficult and it’s going to be no easy from now on,” remarked Nasser Hussain.

The performance of the debutants also came under praise. “Tinu (Yohannan) did very well. (Iqbal) Siddiqui bowled with a lot heart and poor (Sanjay) Bangar couldn’t bowl much because of the hamstring injury! But his batting was commendable,” said the Indian captain.

The Indian coach also had a word on Deep Dasgupta. “Opening the innings and keeping wickets is tough. Time will tell if he will be successful. But he has given good options to the side. He can also be thought of as an allrounder, somebody who can bat well, open the innings and also keep wickets.”

Wright also sounded a note of caution for the side. “A lot of people are thinking we will win the series 3-0. But that’s a dangerous way of thinking,” he cautioned.

Nasser Hussain rued the missed chances during the Test. “Collapsing from 200 for three at one stage to 238 in the first innings was shooting in the foot. We should have reached around 350. We bowled with discipline and had the chances been held, we could have been even.”

   

 
 
BIG WIN FOR SUBURBAN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 6: 
Arindam Sarkar (seven for 45 in 18.4 overs) skittled Aikya Sammilani out for 145, handing Suburban Club a 199-run victory in their two-day CAB first division league match today.

SUMMARISED SCORES

Wari AC 330/9. Tapan Memorial 222/9 (Joydip Mukherjee 61 n.o.; Ranadeb Bose 4/60). Match drawn.

Suburban Club 344. Aikya Sammilani 145 (Arindam sarkar 7/45). Suburban won by 199 runs.

YMCA (College St.) 333/9. Manoharpukur MS 239/6 (Siddhartha Lahiri 86, Biswajit Chatterjee 3/65). Match drawn.

George Telegraph 289. Eastern Railway SA 290/6 (Kanchan Maity 63 n.o., Sanjay Bhattacharya 54; Fukuruddin Sajjat 4/50). E. Rly won by 4wkts.

Aryan 335/9. Belgachia United Club 208 (Krishnendu Banerjee 64; C.P. Verma 4/24). Aryan won by 127 runs.

Kumartuli Institute 321. Burnpur CC 312/8 (Malay Sarkhel 148, Pranob Samanta 58). Match drawn.

Young Bengal 328/9. Shyambazar Club 329/7 (Parimal Ghosh 93 n.o., Amitabha Roy 60; D. Sarkar 3/125). Shyambazar won by 3 wkts.

City AC 357. Town Club 244/5 (Sohom Chowdhury 96, Ujjwal Roy 95). Match drawn.

Kalighat 340. Port Tust 282/7 (Soumen Singh 101; Sabbir Ali 3/84). Match drawn.

   

 
 
BENGAL SETTLE FOR 5 POINTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 6: 
Bengal garnered five points because of their first-innings lead against Bihar in their three-day under-22 match at the ECDSC today.

Orissa-Assam draw

In Cuttack, the other under-22 cricket match between Orissa and Assam ended in a draw. Assam, who had taken a four-run lead in the first innings, gained five points.

SUMMARISED SCORES

In Calcutta: Bengal 439/6 decl. & 194/4 (Shubhradip Ganguly 68). Bihar 373 (Wrichik Majumdar 4/110, Shiv Sagar Singh 3/99). Match drawn.

In Cuttack: Assam 279 & 220 (Mayur Bora 60,Sandeep Rath 6/55, Sourav Sehgal 2/33). Orissa 275 & 82/3. Match drawn.

Under-14 team wins

Bengal under-14 defeated a Bangladesh under-15 outfit in a one-dayer at CCFC. The visitors were bowled out for 116 in 42 overs. Bengal made 117 for two in 39 overs.

   

 
 
SRINATH, SEHWAG BACK 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Mohali, Dec. 6: 
Jawagal Srinath makes a comeback to the 14-member squad for the second Test in Ahmedabad from December 11. He missed the first Test here because of the injury he suffered in South Africa.

Srinath comes in for Sanjay Bangar who has been ruled out of the series because of a hamstring injury.

Jacob Martin, who came in as the 15th member here for Virender Sehwag (suspended following the ICC ruling), has been dropped.

THE SQUAD — Sourav Ganguly, Shiv Sundar Das, Deep Dasgupta, Connor Williams, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Jawagal Srinath, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Tinu Yohannan, Iqbal Siddiqui, Sarandeep Singh.

   

 
 
ECB TO CONSIDER SIXTH ODI 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Mohali, Dec. 6: 
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will consider India’s proposal to play a sixth one-dayer against India in next month’s series at its management board meeting next week. This was informed by ECB executive officer Tim Lamb.

The five-Test series proposed by India during their visit in 2006 will also be discussed. Lamb, however, said that the BCCI will have to honour their four-Test commitment when they tour England next year. “The promise was made by the former BCCI secretary,” he said. If the promise was not met with the series could be in jeopardy, he hinted.

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said the matter was “in status quo”. “I will comment only after I get a written statement from the ECB,” Shah said.

   

 
 
BANGALORE RACING/ FLYING SCOTSMAN MAY BE HARD TO TOSS 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Bangalore, Dec. 6: 
The Kuts-trained Flying Scotsman, with A. Imran Khan in the saddle, may be hard to toss in the Dariya Daulat Trophy tomorrow.

SELECTIONS

2 pm: Prevalence 1. Serious Endeavour 2. Milan 3.

2.30 pm: Sprite 1. Xorra 2. Frnaco Leone 3.

3 pm: Golden Estate 1. Silvano 2. Telegram 3.

3.30 pm: Odeon 1. Aryawun 2. Burning Bright 3.

4 pm: Flying Scotsman 1. Concur 2. Crystal Moment 3.

4.30 pm: Tal 1. Black Ocean 2. Ace of Pace 3.

5 pm: Brave Russian 1. Ambermatic 2. Whitehall 3.

Day’s Best: Flying Scotsman

Double: Tal & Brave Russian

Thursday’s Mumbai results

(With inter-state dividends)

First race: Potential Force (N. M. Khan) 1; Rigged For Revenge 2; Deep Finesse 3. Won by: 2-3/4; SH; (1-29.3). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 12; 24; 18; Quinella: 120; Tanala: 437. Fav: Potential Force.

Second race: Blushing Minstrel (Prakash) 1; Mandalay Bay 2; Combat Way 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 2-1/4; (1-2). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 10; 14; 13; Quinella: 52; Tanala: 95. Fav: Blushing Minstrel.

Third race: Survee’s Pet (Bernard) 1; Discover 2; Demedicie 3. Not run: Furiously (8). Won by: 1-3/4; Hd; (1-15.4). Tote: Win Rs 187; Place: 35; 18; 19; Quinella: 458; Tanala: 11,218. Fav: Alice Charms.

Fourth race: Top Gun (Shroff) 1; Consortium 2; Terrestrial 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1; (1-13.8). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 14; 26; 14; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 412. Fav: Top Gun

Fifth race: Acharya (Belose) 1; Mischiefmaker 2; Cloud Nine 3. Won by: 1; 1-3/4; (1-2.3). Tote: Win Rs 269; Place: 52; 64; 19; Quinella: 1,663; Tanala: 40,162. Fav: Princess Gabriella.

Sixth race: Loyal Rebel (McCullagh) 1; Open Season 2; Moira 3. Won by: 2; 1; (1-9). Tote: Win Rs 99; Place: 29; 20; 17; Quinella: 134; Tanala: 890. Fav: Open Season.

Seventh race: Blue Butterfly (Merchant) 1; Star of Attention 2; Persian Lord 3. Won by: SH; 2-1/4; (1-1.1). Tote: Win Rs 301; Place: 43; 13; 24; Quinella: 203; Tanala: 8,007. Fav: Star of Attention.

Eighth race: Latest News (Gallagher) 1; Akiydath 2; Skip Out Front 3. Won by: 3; 1; (1-9.4). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 12; 376; 54; Quinella: 1,084; Tanala: 15,636. Fav: Latest News.

Ninth race: Safari Girl (Rajendra) 1; Nothing Better 2; Smooth Operator 3. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; (1-29.6). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 13; 31; 19; Quinella: 185; Tanala: 1,165. Fav: Safari Girl.

Jackpot: Rs 1,54,130 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 839; (ii) Rs 2,722; (iii) Rs 1,224.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ TRACK TRIALS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Dec. 6: 
Abroach, Calore-scence and Annatto worked well today morning:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Abroach (Amil) and Calorescence (C. Alford) in 1-54s; (400m) 30s. Latter started 8 ls behind and finished 3 lengths behind. Earl Grey (Rb) in 2-8s; (400m) 27s. Pushed.

1,400m: The Archer (Rutherford) in 1-50s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Annatto (Amil) and Victory Waltz (Surender) in 1-40s; (400m) 28s. Former far better.

1,200m: Royal City (A. P. Singh) and Beneficient (Connorton) in 1-34s; (400m) 29s. Level. Estocade (Rutherford) in 1-36s; (400m) 28s.

1,000m: Actress (Shanker) in 1-11s; (400m) 29s. Fit. Freedom Warrior (Rb) and Callisto (C. Alford) in 1-8s; (400m) 28s. Level. Calculate (Rb) and Anatolia (C. Alford) in 1-9s; (400m) 27s. Former far better.

800m: Soviet Port (Rabani) in 56s; (400m) 29s.Iron Warrior (Dalpat) and Lucifer (Upadhya) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Former 4 ls better. Star Cavalier (Connorton) and Bold Apparel (A. P. Singh) in 56s; (400m) 29s. Former far better. Lovely Prospect (Yasin) and Rich Dominion (Connorton) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Former a length better. Leading Conquest (Shanker) and Silver Victress (Bird) in 57s; (400m) 30s. Former 2 ls better. Arterial (Engineer) in 52s; (400m) 27s. Extended. Common Spirit (Connorton) and Sergeant Slipper (Yasin) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Level. Annalee (Amil) and Annella (Surender) in 54s; (400m) 28s. Level. Star Selection (Connorton) and Social Girl (Yasin) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Former a length better. Sea Royale (C. Alford) and Romantic Notes (Shanker) in 57s; (400m) 30s. Former far better. Mac The Knife (Rutherford) and Ispahan (F. A. Khan) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Level. Attune (C. Alford) and Alsheim (Amil) in 52s; (400m) 26s. Former 6 ls better. Blue Gardenia (Rb) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Arbello (Amil) and Accrete (C. Alford) in 54s; (400m) 28s. Former 6 ls better. No Regrets (Rb) and Among Men (Gowli) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Level. Pehlvan (Rabani) and Secret Way (Islam) in 56s; (400m) 29s. Former 4 ls better. Automatic (Rb) and Ascoril (Surender) in 59s; (400m) 32s. Level. Master Bold (Shanker) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Grand Lodge (Som S.) in Laurels (Gowli) in 53s; (400m) 28s. Level.

600m: Saladin (Rutherford) and Carbon Steel (F. Khan) in 41s; (400m) 27s. Level. Inside Story (Surender) and Network (Rb) in 46s; (400m) 30s. Former a length better.

Sand track

800m: Red Trident (Brij S.) in 57s; (400m) 27s. Finders Keepers (V. Jaiswal) in 52s; (400m) 26s. Jayaa-shva (Saran) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Rheinheart (Shanker) in 51s; (400m) 24s. Handy. Cupid’s Arrow (F. Khan) and Cupola (K. Kumar) in 55s; (400m) 29s. Level.

Gate Practice: (from 2,000m to 1,400m): Afflutter (C. Alford), Albright (Surender) and Annoucer (Amil) in 41s. First two jumped out well.

   
 

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