Sachin and I don’t compete with each other: Sourav
Look ahead Sourav, says Gower
A ‘day’ of reckoning for run-starved Sourav
Hussain: We should put fundamentals in place
Clamour for tickets
Sourav: We still need a good allrounder
Habib back as Md. Sp. coach
Court throws out PILs
Bangalore Racing/ Nairn may win Derby

 
 
SACHIN AND I DON’T COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER: SOURAV 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Jan.18: 
All 22 players will be under pressure as the ODIs get underway tomorrow, but the pressure is bound to be that much more on Sourav Ganguly.

The Indian captain, of course, is himself aware just how important it is to deliver and, clearly, has remained focussed towards that end.

Despite a wedding in the family and a demanding training schedule, Sourav spoke to The Telegraph for around 25 minutes last evening — dwelling at length, exclusively, on his smashing partnership with the peerless Sachin Tendulkar.

The following are excerpts

On his approach to one-day cricket

I’ve always looked to be positive — nothing else comes naturally… If I may add, it’s generally said that opening in one-dayers comes easy, but the white ball does swing more and is probably harder… It’s never a cakewalk… A basic gameplan is there, but it can’t obviously be rigid.

On the ones who, in his book, qualify as quality one-day cricketers

Those with the ability to win matches… Those who deliver in the big games — key matches, the final of the World Cup or a knockout event...

On the top-notch teams

Well, the ones who can get the balance right. Once that’s done, there’s a better chance of success. Also, the shorter the tail, the better. After all, failure of the top-order can then be absorbed by the lower-order batsmen.

On constantly switching from Tests to one-day cricket and vice-versa

As I’ve said before, the adjustment is all in the mind… Strictly speaking, then, this switch isn’t difficult. In fact, the top one-day cricketers are also great Test players… Sachin and Mark Waugh, for example. But, yes, the more compact a batsman, the easier it becomes shifting from one form to the other.

On having forged one-day cricket’s most successful (opening) partnership with Sachin

(Smiles) The secret of our success, perhaps, is that we don’t compete with each other… There’s no competition to ‘beat’ the other, even though both of us are strokemakers. Indeed, we don’t put each other under pressure.

[Sachin and Sourav hold three world records: Maximum century-plus partnerships (16), the most runs by an opening pair (5,435) and the No.1 stand for the first-wicket — 258 versus Kenya in Paarl, 2001.]

On his understanding with Sachin

I suppose we understand each other’s body-language perfectly… Just seeing Sachin move in a particular manner gives an idea as to what is in store. I think Sachin can ‘read’ me just as well… What do we tell each other? Simple things… He may, for example, offer a comment on my possibly striking the ball too hard; I could have something else to say… Also, both of us may talk of changing strategy. Like we did against Australia in the last ICC KnockOut (Nairobi, 2000). As the wicket was doing quite a bit, we realised that playing ‘conventionally’ wouldn’t work and, so, decided to quickly move into the assault-mode. It clicked, as we put on 66 in quicktime.

On who suggested he open with Sachin

Sachin himself, who was then captain (1996-97), and the then coach (Madanlal). As it turned out, we registered a hundred-plus stand in our very first innings together (Jaipur, versus South Africa)… Frankly, I had jumped at the suggestion as regularly batting at No.6 (in the ODIs) wasn’t something that enthused me.

On the partnerships he treasures most

It’s a tough one to answer, but the top three should be: 252 against Sri Lanka in Colombo (1998), 159 versus Pakistan in Dhaka (1998) and 175 against Australia in Kanpur (1998). We won all three games. (Adds after a pause) Actually, the 193 versus South Africa in Johannesburg, this season, is also special — only, even that partnership couldn’t ensure victory.

On the five most outstanding one-day cricketers he has played with and against (random order)

Sachin, Michael Bevan, Brian Lara, Wasim Akram and Jacques Kallis. They look to dominate, have a positive body-language and can win single-handedly. That Kallis can deliver with both bat and ball does put him in a different league.

On his own most satisfying performances

(Smiles again) I’ll pick three — the 124 against Pakistan in Dhaka (1998), the 183 versus Lanka in Taunton (1999 World Cup) and the unbeaten 141 against South Africa in Nairobi (2000 ICC KnockOut).

Finally, his thoughts ahead of his second ODI (first as captain) at the Eden

We are up against a strong team yet, at the same time, are also playing at home… I doubt if fans here will ever get to see a better Test than the last one (versus Australia, 2001) but, hopefully, they won’t forget Saturday’s match in a hurry either… My personal feelings? I’m looking to stick to the basics… As I told you the other day, I do have immense self-belief and I’m not short on confidence.

   

 
 
LOOK AHEAD SOURAV, SAYS GOWER 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
Perhaps, it has something to do with the bond between flamboyant left-handers. Or, it could be that the quintessential gentleman that he is, David Gower couldn’t but offer encouragement.

No matter how you look at it, Sourav Ganguly can only draw comfort from the former England captain’s advice.

Gower, who vacationed for a fortnight in Cape Town with his family (wife Thorunn, daughters Alexandra and Samantha) after last month’s Test series, is back for yet another stint of classy commentary on TV.

“It’s a new year, the start of a fresh series… Sourav should put everything behind and look ahead. He has the talent and, from a purely personal point of view, I hope he returns among the runs,” Gower told The Telegraph this evening, just hours after arriving from London.

Captain during the 1984-85 Test at the Eden, Gower added: “Indeed, Sourav should remember he is starting with a clean sheet and, more important, one innings can turn things around. I’m talking from experience.

“In fact, the situation Sourav finds himself in isn’t much different from what I experienced in the summer of 1985… I didn’t score in the first two ODIs, against Australia, but came back with a century in the third… With so many critics on my back, I couldn’t have timed that return to form better.”

Moving away from Sourav, Gower felt the six-match series (beginning tomorrow) will be “nice and close… Indeed, even…”

He continued: “At home, the Indians are formidable, but Nasser Hussain’s side is high on team spirit and rich in talent… That Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff bowled so well in the Test series is obviously a plus. I’m sure both don’t see the return of Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick as automatically pushing them out of the frame.”

According to Gower, just how competitive England will be in the 2003 World Cup should be reasonably known by February 26, when the immediate ODI commitments get over — five games in New Zealand, after the series in India.

[Incidentally, India and England are in the same group — Pool A.]

“For England, the road to South Africa (for the World Cup) began with the five ODIs in Zimbabwe, this season… The series did allow us to experiment… Winning 5-0 is a good start, yes, but sterner tests await England,” Gower maintained.

Asked to list the attributes of an outstanding one-day team, Gower opined: “An XI with a consistent century-getter in the top four, besides players who can find gaps in the middle overs… Also, a side where the fourth and fifth bowlers can contribute with the bat…”

Predictably, Gower picked Sir Viv Richards as the greatest one-day cricketer of his era. “Besides other qualities, his ability to make a mockery of field placements was, to put it simply, unmatched.”

Among today’s generation, Gower chose Sachin ahead of the rest. Few, anywhere, will disagree.

   

 
 
A ‘DAY’ OF RECKONING FOR RUN-STARVED SOURAV 
 
 
BY INDRANIL MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
As he sat in a chair waiting for his turn to bat at nets, Sourav Ganguly presented a forlorn picture.

A run of poor Test scores and a growing volume of negative opinion, running smack against Sourav’s “good fun” in handling pressure on home ground, must have crossed his mind.

The taste of personal success may have eluded him, but the Eden of cricket is sure to bring back memories of the Ides of March last year. The mighty Australians were laid low as the nation found its bonding on way to achieving Mission Impossible in Chennai.

Poor form, though, has not eroded his confidence or shaken his authority. He continues to command the respect and support of teammates.

Sachin Tendulkar took the Indian skipper out for a ‘knock’ to one of the nets earmarked for the Englishmen this morning. The maestro worked on Sourav’s weakness against the moving and short deliveries as Ajit Agarkar offered help with the ball.

Whether he will get runs tomorrow or finish the series on a personal high is a matter of speculation, but the fact that he amassed 380 (63-plus average) during the last set of ODIs — the tri-series in South Africa — is sure to act as a major booster.

“I did fail in two Tests but the New Year break should help me. I hope to get back in touch,” Sourav said.

Nothing would be more apt for the full-house, when one-day cricket returns to the city after more than three years, than the Prince returning to form. The conditions will not be too alien for him — a wicket which should produce runs at the outset, no short-pitched stuff aimed at his body, an unlikely array of close-in fielders to play on his nerves.

The nature of the Eden wicket suggests that it will have enough carry for the pacers in the first session, aiding lateral movement. With the ball coming onto the bat, the strokemakers should have a gala time. Later, however, with dusk setting in, it might help the spinners.

The players, though, will have to contend with the dew factor at this time of the year, an element that is sure to hinder their performance in the second session.

Scoring will not be easy on the wet outfield and the batsmen will have to rely more on the singles. The bowlers, too, will find it difficult to grip the ball.

“We haven’t been there late enough to gauge the amount of dew. If it’s dewy it might do more off the wicket. Obviously you get a wet ball and it swings in roundabouts really. It might just do a little more under lights later on,” said England skipper Nasser Hussain.

Sourav was cautious. “It’s difficult to say. You can’t predict the dew, but have to take into account that there might be dew. The toss and dew will make no difference unless the wicket behaves differently.”

This is not in any way affecting the team composition as the Indians have more or less made up their minds on leaving out Sarandeep Singh, Zaheer Khan and Sanjay Bangar.

Comeback man Dinesh Mongia will bat at No. 3 followed by Vangipurappu Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Hemang Badani. Ajay Ratra will make his debut while the team management is likely to keep faith on Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.

Ajit Agarkar should partner Jawagal Srinath as the selectors prefer the Mumbai all-rounder to Zaheer. The fifth bowler’s slot will then be shared by Sourav, Sachin and Sehwag.

The occasion and the setting should inspire Laxman, making his first appearance here after his epic 281. The moment of glory should also be fresh in the memory of hattrick-man Harbhajan.

The off-spinner will, however, have to combat the Kookabura ball instead of the wider SG seam. But that should not be a handicap as containment will be the key instead of the turn.

For the inexperienced English side, living upto the pressures of playing in front of 100,000 people under lights will be a big test. Fitness problems did bother the visitors but Marcus Trescothick and Paul Collingwood were “fine” by the evening.

Andrew Caddick’s taunt may be of very little significance to the Indian captain since he is in doubt of making the playing XI. It’s a choice between Caddick and Matthew Hoggard for the second seamer’s slot.

TEAMS

INDIA (likely): Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Mongia, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Hemang Badani, Ajay Ratra, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Jawagal Srinath and Harbhajan Singh.

ENGLAND (likely): Marcus Trescothick, Nick Knight, Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, James Foster, Jeremy Snape/Paul Collingwood, Ashley Giles, Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick/Matthew Hoggard.

Umpires: S.K. Sharma and K. Hariharan.

Hours of Play: 1st session — 2.30pm to 6pm. 2nd session — 6.45pm to 10.15pm.

   

 
 
HUSSAIN: WE SHOULD PUT FUNDAMENTALS IN PLACE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
Nasser Hussain today echoed what Duncan Fletcher had said yesterday. The Englishmen are “slightly underprepared” going into the first ODI with only one practice game made available.

The English captain has, however, decided to do away with such excuses and concentrating on the job at hand.

“India at home are a different composition. It’s important we start putting the fundamentals in place. We have done well in Zimbabwe in the last series and it’s important we keep going in the same vein and maintain the team spirit,” Hussain said.

“Playing six ODIs is very difficult. It involves a lot of travelling. Mentally, if we can have a win under our belt in the first couple of games everything else becomes easy.”

Describing the Indians as “among the most talented in the world,” Hussain urged his players not to put themselves under pressure.

“India have eight, nine or ten players who would be among the most talented in the world. You never know what you can be hit with. It could be a 281 from V. V. S. Laxman or an astounding performance from anyone else. “Given the opportunity we’ll put them under pressure. It will all about handling pressure and the Indians haven’t been too comfortable under such situations in recent memory.

“Our learning curve continues. It will all be about handling pressure situations,” Hussain said.

Looking ahead to the 2003 World Cup, Hussain said: “We have around 30 ODIs leading to the mega event. It’s an opportunity previous side haven’t had. It’s just not about learning from victories but also from defeats.

Asked whether his team would be under pressure playing before such a big crowd, he quipped, “I would prefer to play before a crowd of 80,000 than a man and a dog at Chelmsford.”

“I think there will be also be a lot of pressure on the Indian team, which has a number of young players. They will be up against the large number of supporters at the stadium who will expect them to win,” he added. On his side’s chances he observed, “Those with strong characters will come through tomorrow.”

Hussain exuded confidence in James Foster and Marcus Trescothick’s donning the big gloves yesterday was “only if Foster breaks down during the series.”

   

 
 
CLAMOUR FOR TICKETS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
The clamour for tickets for tomorrow’s one-day International escalated on match-eve with hundreds thronging the CAB for a piece of the precious paper. Most returned disappointed.

The India-England match, first of the six-match series, has created tremendous excitement and according to officials, Eden Gardens has not been in such demand since the World Cup semi-final between India and Sri Lanka in 1996.

Keeping in mind unpleasant memories of that evening, when the match had to be called off with the crowd pelting bottles on to the field, and similar interruption during the India-Pakistan Test in 1999, water bottles have once again been banned.

The Eden approximately seats 91,000 — of which 30,000 are reserved for members. After obliging those, just 4,000 were sold among the public. Those not so fortunate thronged the Eden area from early morning and had to make do with just a glimpse of the cricketers.

Skipper and goalkeeper

When the Indian players started batting and bowling after the physical workouts, Sourav Ganguly’s turn to enter the nets came late. Before that, the India captain picked up a football brought along by the team and started juggling it. Former India goalkeeper Shibaji Banerjee, now chairman of the CAB’s grounds committee, was around and seeing Sourav with the football, invited him to take a few shots. The captain didn’t mind and took a few shots at him amid chants of ‘goal, goal’ from the amused mediamen. While he didn’t exactly score one, it seemed he is pretty comfortable shooting with both legs.

Fan among cops

The Little Master has fans everywhere. Wherever he goes, especially near a cricket ground, there is always a loud cheer for him and city cops are no different. The handful of spectators present for the Indian team’s morning nets at the Eden this morning could hardly generate a noise by clapping when Sachin Tendulkar entered the hallowed turf. The Master, though, received encouragement from some policemen on duty there. When the clapping started, the lathi came in their way but where there is a will there is a way.

   

 
 
SOURAV: WE STILL NEED A GOOD ALLROUNDER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
India’s search for a good allrounder continues ahead of the 2003 World Cup.

“We’ve done well in the first 15 overs. The basic thing now is that we need to find a good allrounder,” Sourav Ganguly said after nets today.

On whether Sanjay Bangar could fill the slot vacated by all-rounder Robin Singh, Sourav said: “Robin had played more than 100 one-dayers while Sanjay has not yet played a single one. He has a lot of potential but there are still a lot of things to do.”

The Indian captain was non-committal on whether the present players would form the nucleus of the World Cup team.

“It is difficult to say. But these are the most talented cricketers in the country and have been selected on the basis of their performance in the domestic circuit.”

Coach John Wright said the team was a good mixture of youth and experience. He said fielding and running between wickets needed a lot of improvement.

   

 
 
HABIB BACK AS MD. SP. COACH 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
Mohammed Habib today returned to Mohammedan Sporting as coach after being unceremoniously removed by the club from that post a couple of years back following their defeat to Mohun Bagan in the McDowell Cup.

“We’d apologised for what happened to him (Habib). The club has a new management and the coach has been given full independence in forming his team,” club secretary Sultan Ahmed said today. And Habib said it was okay now and signed a 12-month contract.

Meanwhile, Ahmed spoke of building a team which would be worth “a good budget” (nearly Rs 1 crore, it has been learnt).

EB sign Carlos

East Bengal today signed Brazilian striker Jose Carlos da Silva to add power up front.

The new recruit today flew with the team to Bangalore for their National Football League clash with HAL on Sunday.

Khalsa win Kaivan Cup

Khalsa Sporting lifted the Kaivan Cup beating Xaverians 1-0 in the final at the BHA ground today. N. Singh scored for Khalsa.

In the Laxmibilas Cup, WB Police routed Khalsa Model School 4-0. Gurupada Gope, Avijit Dey, Sanjeeb Chatterjee and Sagar Subba scored for the policemen.

   

 
 
COURT THROWS OUT PILS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 18: 
Two Public Interest Litigation (PIL) suits filed against the CAB were today turned down. One was to prevent the ‘wastage of power’ by proposing a day match instead of one under lights and the other alleged shortage of drinking water inside the stadium. The Court rejected both but instructed the CAB to announce through the newspapers what arrangements it had made.

   

 
 
BANGALORE RACING/ NAIRN MAY WIN DERBY 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Bangalore, Jan. 18: 
With K. P. Appu in the saddle, Z. Darashah’s Oaks winner Nairn may win the Romanov Bangalore Derby tomorrow here.

SELECTIONS

1.30 pm: Name And Fame 1. Touched By Fire 2. Aerographer 3.

2 pm: Noble Minstrel 1. Fantastic Fortune 2. River Nile 3.

2.30 pm: Just Brave 1. Dare You Say 2. Slim Twist 3.

3 pm: L’Avenir 1. Priceless 2.

3.30 pm: Crown Dancer 1. Old Meldrum 2. Starstruck 3.

4 pm: Nairn 1. Caressing 2. If Looks Could Kill 3.

4.30 pm: Sunspangled 1. Forest Rose 2. Trillenniium 3.

5 pm: Flying Scotsman 1. Augill Castle 2. Crystal Moment 3.

5.30 pm: Sinatra 1. Royal Movements 2. London Bells 3.

6 pm: Mumbai Dancer 1. Renzino 2. Aryawun 3.

Day’s Best: Nairn

Double: Sunspangled & Flying Scotsman

Firday’s Bangalore results

(With inter-state dividends)

1. January Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (3-7-1) Amber Regent (Prakash) 1; Southern Goddess 2; Ideal Cut 3. Not run: Siberean (5). Won by: 4; 5-1/4; (1-14.2). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 23; 15; Quinella: 98; Tan-ala: 281. Fav: Amber Regent (3).

2. Mudabidri Plate, Div-II 1,400m: (1-5-3) Vertigo (R. Marshall) 1; Rusticana 2; I Me And Mine 3. Won by: 2; 1/2; (1-29.7). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 13; 20; 13; Quinella: 136; Tanala: 440. Fav: I Me And Mine (3).

3. January Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (4-8-6) Accede (Prakash) 1; Red Mamma 2; Zurbaran 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 2-1/2; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 12; 17; 32; Quinella: 68; Tanala: 496. Fav: Accede (4).

4. Gumbaz Cup, Div-I 1,400m: (3-5-2) Firecrest (Appu) 1; South Cove 2; Anchor 3. Won by: 1/2; 2-3/4; (1-28.1). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 17; 17; Quinella: 41; Tanala: 135. Fav: Firecrest (3).

5. Nilgiris Cup 2,000m: (2-1-5) Mayfair (Srinath) 1; Ma Baker 2; Silvanus 3. Won by: 2; 3/4; (2-9.6). Tote: Win Rs 198; Place: 54; 13; Quinella: 114; Tanala: 1,850. Fav: Rio Tinto (3).

6. Gumbaz Cup, Div-II 1,400m: (5-6-2) Sunny Spice (Shakti) 1; Shining Conquest 2; Rising Wings 3. Won by: 1-3/4; SH; (1-29.1). Tote: Win Rs 88; Place: 27; 12; 22; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 1,272. Fav: Shining Conquest (6).

7. Brig. M. S. Dhillon Memorial Plate 1,200m: (1-11-2) So Thrilled (Shukla) 1; Kisunugntly 2; Maltese Falcon 3. Not run: Xar (7). Won by: 5-1/4; 1; (1-15.1). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 16; 27; 52; Quinella: 75; Tanala: 1,320. Fav: So Thrilled (1).

8. Mudabidri Plate, Div-I 1,400m: (2-3-4) Fly Past (Faisal) 1; Beautiful Bird 2; Might 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 3/4; (1-30.7). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 16; 30; 12; Quinella: 272; Tanala: 1,228. Fav: Might (4).

Jackpot: Rs 1,19,952 (Carried over); (C) Rs 4,406.

Treble: (i) Rs 95; (ii) Rs 2,504; (iii) Rs 1,685.

   
 

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