Sourav hung on ‘strained’ hamstring
Special to be in Chennai: Hussain
Kaif, Yuvraj in contention
Barreto magic again
ACB chief defends rotation policy
Girls teams new feature
Somak best in the state
Ordnance Club tennis meet
Bangalore Racing / Joe The Pro for main event

 
 
SOURAV HUNG ON ‘STRAINED’ HAMSTRING 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Chennai, Jan. 24: 
In a nutshell, a right hamstring injury at the wrong time.

Till late this afternoon, the focus ahead of the third ODI was all on the city-born England captain Nasser Hussain. A few minutes into the Indians’ workout at the Chepauk, however, and attention shifted to a limping Indian captain.

After an hour on physio Andrew Leipus’ table, Sourav Ganguly was taken to hospital for ultra-sonography and an MRI scan. Later, back at the Taj Coromandel, Sourav bravely told The Telegraph: “Chances of my playing tomorrow are slim, but I surely won’t be out of the series...”

The captain’s body-language suggested only the best recovery-shot will be played.

According to Sourav, the injury has been diagnosed as a “strain”, not a “tear”. In between receiving calls from well-wishers, he added: “Andrew will work on the injury through the night and, so, let’s see... As it’s a day-night game, what matters is how I feel in the morning...”

Speaking exclusively, Leipus himself said: “Frankly, I wouldn’t rule Sourav out completely... That he hasn’t suffered a tear is definitely something positive. Then, as we all know, the match begins in the afternoon (2.30 pm)... In any case, I’ll put him through a test in the morning.”

With regular vice-captain Rahul Dravid undergoing treatment in South Africa and the selectors sticking to the (rather old-fashioned) practice of not naming the vice-captain for a home series, who stands-in for Sourav — should he not take the field — gave the late-afternoon episode an even more dramatic twist.

One understands, though, the job will go to one-time vice-captain Anil Kumble who, incidentally, hasn’t ever captained India. Not one to speak out of turn, Kumble declined to offer an immediate comment: “I may say something if I hear from either the Board or the selectors...” Apparently, a Board official “approached” Sachin Tendulkar, but the maestro (who quit the captaincy 22 months ago) is learnt to have “declined”.

If Sourav doesn’t play (as looks most likely), his place will go to rookie Sanjay Bangar, with Virender Sehwag being asked to open with Sachin. Bangar may come into the openers’ frame as well.

Pretty predictably, England coach Duncan Fletcher preferred not to read too much into the Sourav-issue. “Well, if it comes to the captain not playing, whoever replaces him will be a quality player. At this level, teams only have top players...”

Till Sourav “upstaged” Hussain, the focus wasn’t just on the England captain, but his father, Jawad, too.

Being a Tamil Nadu cricketer himself, it wasn’t unusual for Jawad (who migrated in 1973) to bring his sons over to the Chepauk. Not many may then have noticed the three boys yet, today, one is England captain.

Given his links with Chennai, Hussain has acknowledged tomorrow will be a “big game.” Not just for an emotional Hussain clan, but generally for England as well.

Actually, cut out the emotions, and it’s a huge match for India too. The six-game series is tied 1-1 and whoever wins under floodlights here is bound to be comfortably placed in the second half of the engagements (Kanpur, New Delhi and Mumbai). For both, then, it’s a must-win scenario.

“It’s all delicately poised,” is how Fletcher who (by rotation) spoke to the Media, put it.

Though India began with the home advantage — in any case, never pronounced in ODIs — England have never quite looked the underdogs some made them out to be. But for a horrendous decision, Hussain’s team could have won in Calcutta. In Cuttack, they did.

“Well, victory should have been India’s... What hurts more is that we lost a match we should have won... Yes, it’s not the first time, and I can only hope it will be the last such instance,” is what Sourav had to say.

Ironically, India’s defeat in Cuttack had much to do with shortcomings in the two areas coach John Wright has been working most on: Fielding and, more importantly, running between wickets. Apparently, both the coach and captain did some plain-talking before nets today.

Wright, however, emphasised it was time to look ahead. “What’s gone is an opportunity lost. At this point in time, then, I would rather look to tomorrow and beyond...” And, if the option is there, India must look to set a target instead of chasing one.

Should India play to potential, accounting for England ought not to be as challenging as conquering Everest without oxygen. But, then, the basics must be got right and Sachin, in particular, will have to fire with a boom that should carry to Lord’s and Ilford and...

It’s interesting that till the Sourav injury, there were whispers Kumble could have had to make way for Sarandeep Singh. Post that hamstring injury, equations are very different. In fact, had Harbhajan Singh not bowled “beautifully” in Cuttack, Sarandeep would straightaway have replaced him. Now, it seems, Sarandeep’s wait will continue.

England, one learns, are contemplating playing the proven duo of Graham Thorpe and Andrew Caddick. Therefore, Ben Hollioake and Matthew Hoggard may sit out. The axe could even fall on Nick Knight. Really, it’s a measure of England’s confidence that they can “bench” Thorpe and Caddick, with 71 and 35 caps, respectively.

For an inexperienced team, that’s some experience.

“It’s going to be a tough selection and, clearly, the captain and I will have to spend much time finalising the XI,” confessed Fletcher.

For the statistically-inclined, India have lost two of their three ODIs at the Chepauk — the last, of course, saw Saeed Anwar charm his way to that world record of 194 in the summer of 1997.

The amphitheatre, which looked enchanting this evening, will be packed beyond capacity and if the humidity gets irritating, some comfort can be gained from the smart video-screen which is a handsome add-on to the existing facilities.

The one question is: Should controversial replays be shown?

THE TEAMS

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

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

Umpires: Devender Sharma and Vijay Chopra.

   

 
 
SPECIAL TO BE IN CHENNAI: HUSSAIN 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Chennai, Jan.24: 
He doesn’t remember much, but the bond between him and these parts is special. We are, of course, talking of Nasser Hussain and Chennai. Of the one sentimental link between Ilford and here.

“It’s a nice, personal and emotional moment,” is how the ever-so politically correct Hussain himself described his return to the city of his birth — this time as England’s cricket captain.

Speaking briefly to The Telegraph, Hussain (who turns 34 on March 28) added: “I’m afraid, however, I don’t recall the nursing home where I was born, nor can I remember the locality we stayed till I was five and the family migrated to England... I don’t even recall the nursery school I went to. But, yes, I do relate to the Marina Beach...”

Only once before, in 1985/86, did Hussain come to Chennai after having left the city as a child. “I was then with an uncle (Humayun), though I’m honestly not sure whether he is still around... I then did see our old house but, as I’ve said, I can’t remember the location... Yes, I did play a bit at the Chepauk then.”

Tomorrow, at that very amphitheatre, Hussain will lead England in the third of six ODIs. “It’s going to be a big match... Not just for me, but my father (Jawad) and the rest of the family...” For once, Hussain was emotional.

Smiling, Hussain informed “some relatives” were to meet him today and it’s possible an informal “felicitation” could be organised by the Madras Cricket Club. “I’ve been told something is in the offing,” he pointed out. For good measure, Hussain is doing what opposite number Sourav Ganguly did in Calcutta — snaring team-allotted complimentaries, to ensure few in the ‘inner circle’ remain disappointed.

“I do know some relatives definitely stay in Bangalore, because my father did meet them during last month’s Test. I didn’t, because I was just too focussed on the game... I suppose they are the ones who may come over and also watch tomorrow’s ODI.”

Hussain’s father (an allrounder), who worked in an electrical parts company, even did Ranji Trophy duty for Tamil Nadu. The England captain does recall visits to the Chepauk, but can’t specifically remember any one match. “It was too far back and I was much too young.”

Given the huge emotional flavour of this trip, didn’t his father (who married Shireen, an Englishwoman) consider making another visit to India? Or, for that matter, his own wife (Karen) and son (Jake)? “Father would surely have loved to, but he doesn’t quite like flying. And, so...” Hussain replied.

As Hussain — his parents named him “Nasser” out of admiration for the legendary Egyptian leader — is bound to be reminded about returning to his roots, over the next couple of days, one asked whether he had something else to say.

Smiling again, Hussain responded: “Look, I’m obviously very proud of being an Englishman and, in any case, learnt all my cricket in England. At the same time, I’m proud of my ties with India. That I was born here can never be changed... Indeed, it’s special being in Chennai.”

Is it the ultimate, then, for an Indian-born England captain to lead England in India? This time, Hussain laughed: “The ultimate will be for that very captain to beat India in India!”

Point accepted.

Incidentally, Hussain’s first trip overseas with England had been to India, back in 1989-90 for the high-profile Nehru Cup. Only, Chepauk didn’t host England during that tournament.

   

 
 
KAIF, YUVRAJ IN CONTENTION 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Chennai, Jan. 24: 
India’s U-19 World Cup-winning captain Mohammed Kaif appears a strong contender for a place in the Indian XIV for the last three ODIs against England. Also in contention is Yuvraj Singh.

The selection for the matches to be played in Kanpur (January 28), New Delhi (January 31) and Mumbai (February 3) will be done here tomorrow.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, V.V.S.Laxman and Virender Sehwag are under the scanner and unless they deliver in ODI No.3, at the Chepauk, could well be omitted. While Laxman contributed 25 and 3 in the first two games, Sehwag had 29 and 5.

It’s significant that both Kaif and Yuvraj were impressive in the recent Challenger. What stood out even more was their athleticism: Sharp in the field and excellent between the wickets. In ODIs, specially, this does count for much.

At the moment, nobody is quite looking at effecting any changes among the bowlers. Also, as of now, captain Sourav Ganguly is set to miss only tomorrow’s match.

   

 
 
BARRETO MAGIC AGAIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 24: 
Mohun Bagan 2
Churchill 1

Jose Ramirez Barreto is setting precedents in Indian football and, with them, expectations from him soaring to new heights.

The artistry and a sense of savoir faire, attached to Barreto’s vintage of goals in recent times, look so nimble yet ethereal. And all this has been the followers’ identification with a new way to look at and understand the game, at least in this part of the world.

The National Football League (NFL) match between Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers at Salt Lake Stadium today was no exception. Or has the time come to say that such Barreto brilliance is a rule, not exception?

Barreto’s moments of reckoning came twice in the match, but it was the second strike that deserved the highlighter.

The scoreline was 1-1 by then. The wily striker was closely marked by Mahesh Gawli, when he received a James Singh cross inside the dreaded area from the left, his back to the goal. The Brazilian chested it down, blocking the national defender from a view of the ball, received the ball with his right foot, took a left turn and unleashed a right-footer. All in one clean swirl. Churchill Brothers custodian Edward Ansah was left totally befuddled in his position as he saw the ball sweep into the netting to his left. It was over in four seconds flat.

Barreto, thus, again emerged the saviour for the local outfit, scoring two dazzling goals as Mohun Bagan prevailed in a fast-paced match over their Goan rivals 2-1. In between, Abdul Saley Ganiyu pulled one back for the visitors.

In the 21st minute, Barreto, fed on an R. P. Singh pass, set up a chance for Rennedy Singh in the open, but the latter made a mess of it, shooting well wide off the target.

Two minutes later, the home team took the lead and it was unmistakably a product of Barreto’s class. R.C Prakash bumbled while taking aim at a right-end James Singh cross towards the penalty box. The ball rolled down his body to fall in the way of Barreto, standing close by.

The Brazilian, who was facing his own goal, took a swift right turn to create a space for him, despite presence of a number of challengers, and his resultant low left-footer went past Churchill Brothers custodian Ansah.

T.K. Chathunni’s side, however, took little time to get over the surprise goal and kept up constant pressure on the Bagan box. Their efforts reached fruition in the 33rd minute through Ganiyu.

Ratan Singh tapped the ball to Noel Wilson off a corner in the left touchline and the Churchill midfielder sent in a measured cross towards the box. Ganiyu out-jumped a couple of Bagan defenders to back-head as Rajat Ghosh Dastidar was found wanting in covering the space. The ball went over Mohun Bagan goalkeeper to drop into the net.

Then, three minutes from the first half, Barreto stamped his class again, this time, with more ingeniousness and dynamism, taking his goals tally to six, the highest in the league. “It was my best goal so far in the NFL. I’m happy I helped my team win the match,” Barreto later said. The Brazilian will miss the next match against Salgaocar due to a double booking.

Mohun Bagan got several chances to extend the lead even if Churchill launched into an all-out attack in the second half.

TEAMS

MOHUN BAGAN: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Dulal Biswas, Hussain Mustafi, Amauri da Silva, Rishi Kapoor; James Singh, R.P. Singh (Basudeb Mondal, 70m), Debjit Ghosh, Rennedy Singh; Jose Ramirez Barreto, R.C. Prakash (Sumit Sengupta, 85).

CHURCHILL BROTHERS: Edward Ansah; Francis Coelho, Osamanu Hussaini, Mahesh Gawli (Denzil Ferrao, 75), Rejesh Meetei; Roque Barreto, Aqeel Ansari (Tejinder Kumar, 66), Ratan Singh, Noel Wilson, Abdul Saley Ganiyu, Yusuf Yakubu.

Referee: Dinesh M. Nair (Gujarat).

Tollygunge meet FC Kochin

New Tollygunge Agragami coach Aloke Mukherjee today said that he has just about got a feel of his team and is yet to feel the pulse. However, he said he was confident about the midfield and could do with a little polishing of the defence and attack for tomorrow’s match versus FC Kochin here.

ITI beat Punjab Police

Nigerian import Johan Ugwa scored a hattrick as ITI whipped Punjab Police 3-0 today, reports PTI from Bangalore. ITI now have 16 points from nine matches, while Punjab Police just three.    

 
 
ACB CHIEF DEFENDS ROTATION POLICY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 24: 
Australian Cricket Board (ACB) chairman Bob Merriman today indicated that the country’s rotation policy is still in place.

Merriman, who called on BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya on a whistle-stop visit to the city today, was reacting to media reports that the policy was being scrapped in view of three recent losses.

He said there has been some criticism of late after Steve Waugh’s team lost three matches, “but when we won 20 matches out of 21 last season, everyone said it was the best thing to have been devised,”

Merriman said, adding that the policy was still in place, that “it’s a good way to avoid players’ burnout considering the volume of cricket being played these days.”

He also felt that time was ripe to give the Match Referee’s role a clearer definition. It’s with this in mind that the ACB will put forward a number of proposals at the executive board meeting of the ICC in Colombo in March.

He refused to comment on the Mike Denness episode, but did state that the Match Referees’ role needs to be reviewed. “The ICC is in the process of doing that. There are a number of views on this issue and we also have our own thoughts which we will place at the meeting,” Merriman told mediamen this evening.

He added the ACB also feels field umpires should be given a greater role.

Merriman said his discussion with Dalmiya covered a wide range of issues, including the possibility of future tours. “We have to see where we can fit a series with India in the ICC’s 10-year programme but we both agreed that there should be more cricket between India and Australia.”

   

 
 
GIRLS TEAMS NEW FEATURE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 24: 
The fifth inter-school tennis championship will have a new feature this year — a girls’ team championship. This was announced by the organisers, the Indian Tennis Academy (ITA), at a press conference this evening.

Eight girls’ and 16 boys’ teams will figure in the meet to be held at the SAI complex from Monday through February 2. While St Xavier’s, champions for the last three years, have been seeded No. 1 in the boys’ draw, La Martiniere have got the pride of place in the girls’ competition.

Bank kabaddi

Mumbai won the all-India SBI inter-circle kabaddi meet beating Hyderabad 13-6. In the semis earlier today, Hyderabad overcame Bengal 31-24 while Mumbai dismissed Delhi 26-6.    

 
 
SOMAK BEST IN THE STATE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 24: 
Somak Palit drew his final-round game to emerge champion in the 37th senior state chess championship which concluded at Khudiram Anusilan Kendra today.

Somak, at 15, became the second youngest after Dibyendu Barua to win the prestigious title. Barua was 12 when he won the crown about two decades ago.

The reigning champion of The Telegraph Schools’ championship, Goodricke Academy trainee Somak tallied 9.5 points to earn a cheque for Rs 3,000. The trio of Anirban Guha Roy, Roktim Bandopadhyay and Sanker Roy finished half-a-point behind Somak, but Anirban was adjudged runner-up on a better progressive score.

FINAL STANDINGS — 1. Somak Palit (9.5); 2. Anirban Guha Roy (9); 3. Roktim Bandopadhyay (9); 4. Sanker Roy (9); 5. Swapan Mitra (8.5); 6. Dyutimoy Mukherjee (8.5); 7. Laltu Chatterjee (8.5); 8. Suvrajit Saha (8); 9. Joydeb Saha (8); 10. Anjan Mallick (8).

   

 
 
ORDNANCE CLUB TENNIS MEET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 24: 
The Ordnance Club will host a prize-money tennis tournament from February 4-16. Apart from men’s singles and doubles, ladies’ singles and veterans’ (above 45) doubles, there will also be two handicap events — men’s singles and doubles. The winner of the men’s singles Open title will earn Rs 4000.    

 
 
BANGALORE RACING / JOE THE PRO FOR MAIN EVENT 
 
 
FROM WILLIAM TELL
 
Bangalore, Jan. 24: 
Joe The Pro from Z. Darashah’s yard, with K. P. Appu in the saddle, is fancied to win the Racing Patrons Trophy here tomorrow.

SELECTIONS

3 pm: Superior Force 1. Ithica 2. Sworn Silence 3.

3.30 pm: Carnival Craze 1. Pink Squirrel 2. Golden Estate 3.

4 pm: Joe The Pro 1. Ronson 2. Grisogono 3.

4.30 pm: Secret Helo 1. Soviet Bay 2. Machrie Bay 3.

5 pm: Startrix 1. I Am Beautiful 2. Noble Minstrel 3.

5.30 pm: Scarlet Runner 1. Rythm ‘N’ Blues 2. His Heirness 3.

Day’s Best: Secret Halo

Double: Startrix & Scarlet Runner.

Thursday’s Mumbai results

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Nectar Queen Plate 1,200m: (2-1-3) Mountain Rose (Gharat) 1; Blu-es Clues 2; Come Prima 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 3-1/4; (1-14.3). Tote: Win Rs 43; Place: 15; 12; 13; Quinella: 53; Tanala: 172. Fav: Come Prima (3).

2. Bright Hanovar Trophy 1,400m: (2-3-1) Crowning Moment (Lema-ire) 1; Angara 2; Kargil 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4; (1-25– record). Tote: Win Rs 67; Place: 25; 10; Quinella: 25; Tanala: 674. Fav: Angara (3).

3. Bahrain Trophy 1,000m: (1-3-5) Royal Honey (McCullagh) 1; Lucky Spell 2; Shadow Dancing 3. Won by: 5; 1/2; (1-1.1). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 10; 12; Quinella: 14; Tanala: 24. Fav: Royal Honey (1).

4. Corniche Plate 1,200m: (3-7-8) Ruffles (Rajendra) 1; Khim 2; Tactful 3. Won by: 3-3/4; Hd; (1-14.5). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 11; 32; 24; Quinella: 105; Tanala: 530. Fav: Ruffles (3).

5. Rao Saheb D. K. Parker Trophy 1,400m: (4-2-3) Zeta Jones (J. Chinoy) 1; Divine Protocol 2; Amorous Warrior 3. Won by: 3-1/4; Hd; (1-25.6). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 12; 12; 17; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 245. Fav: Divine Protocol (2).

6. Air Ace Plate 1,200m: (6-2-1) King Crimson (R. Pandey) 1; High Voltage 2; Nothing Better 3. Not run: Arrow Burn (3). Won by: 1; 1/2; (1-14.3). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 14; 22; 19; Quinella: 77; Tanala: 384. Fav: King Crimson (6).

7. Atomic Prince Plate 1,600m: (2-5-1) Adam’s Delight (Belose) 1; Prince of Fashion 2; Wine N’ Song 3. Won by: 3/4; 3/4; (1-40.5). Tote: Win Rs 150; Place: 40; 32; 20; Quinella: 1,242; Tanala: 9,590. Fav: Quick Decision (6).

8. Fair Victory Plate 1,400m: (4-7-5) Sugar Daddy (Belose) 1; Sunchyme 2; Positive Thinker 3. Won by: Nk; 2-1/2; (1-28.2). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 19; 20; 17; Quinella: 124; Tanala: 637. Fav: Positive Thinker (5).

Jackpot: Rs 12,330; (C) Rs 1,121.

Treble: (i) Rs 223; (ii) Rs 67; (iii) Rs 2,239.

   
 

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