India home despite middle-order collapse
Sachin no to stand-in captaincy
Hussain still a role model: Marcus Trescothick
Father’s ‘surprise’ for son
Laxman makes way for Kaif
Full marks to Tollygunge vs FCK
Bagan, EB open vs Punjab teams
Bangalore Races/Hope And Faith may come good
Bangalore Racing/ Almond triumphs
Track Trials/ Acceptor impresses

Chennai, Jan. 25: 
INDIA 221/6
MoM: Sachin

Ten months after Samir Dighe played the innings of his life, in that deciding Test versus Australia, another wicketkeeper kept nerve to ensure India didn’t come off second-best under the dazzling Chepauk floodlights.

Of course, one is talking of young Ajay Ratra who authored a bold, unbeaten 29 (31 deliveries, 4x4), an innings which pulled India away from the jaws of possible defeat. Bottomline, then, is Nasser Hussain’s “special” occasion ended rather ingloriously.

It’s another matter that yet another mid-innings crisis, in the Indian ranks, had actually brought Hussain’s team right back. Still, with MoM Sachin Tendulkar having launched into England’s bowlers as he would into the latest sea-food offering back in Mumbai, or anywhere, the finish could scarcely have been very different.

Requiring a modest 218 to take a morale-enhancing 2-1 lead in the six-match series, India reached the target with hiccups few would have foreseen when, by over No.15 itself, India had done a Michael Schumacher to hit 83 without loss.

“We did fight back, towards the end, but the fight ought to have begun in the afternoon,” remarked the city-born Hussain. Stand-in captain Anil Kumble, whose ‘innings’ in the hot seat began with victory, lauded Ratra besides complimenting his bowlers, specially Ajit Agarkar.

As for Sachin, who fell leg-before to Jeremy Snape on 68 (79 balls, 10x4), he vowed to stay till the end in the remaining three games. For England, that’s real bad news.

With regular captain Sourav Ganguly out with a hamstring, the makeshift opening pair of Sachin and Virender Sehwag didn’t leave anything to be desired: A stand of 107 in under 19 overs is, under any condition, an excellent launch-pad.

Unfortunately, Sehwag’s exit (51 in 58 deliveries, 8x4) just when he had begun matching Sachin’s strokeplay, was quickly followed by the maestro’s own dismissal. V.V.S.Laxman and the in-form Dinesh Mongia then added 35 for the third-wicket, before the mid-innings blues struck.

Laxman (dropped for the last three ties), Mongia and debutant Sanjay Bangar all fell quicker than skittles in an alley and, amazingly, all to an inspired Matthew Hoggard. If his first spell was pedestrian (7-0-38-0), the second changed England’s body-language. With the ball doing quite a bit and the Indians far from judicious, Hoggard had three wickets in six deliveries.

A month ago, this Allan Donald-admirer recorded a superb spell in the Bangalore Test. This evening, came a repeat.

It was in the midst of Hoggard’s stunning spell that the umpires asked for a ball-change and this, rather unnecessarily, infuriated Hussain. Not much later, Snape pushed local lad Hemang Badani. It appeared things would get out of hand but, thankfully, one more unpleasant incident didn’t occur. Earlier, though, Andrew Flintoff did have a verbal-go.

At the finish, Ratra’s ally was Agarkar, who replaced Badani. The latter, as it so happened, couldn’t make capital of a let-off from James Foster. At the start, Sehwag had been put down by Snape. Sehwag, however, did go to fifty-plus from 13.

Aggressive running was a distinct feature of Ratra’s innings. Plenty of guts too. Indeed, Kumble summed it up perfectly when he spoke of “character.” Clearly, Deep Dasgupta will have to work much, much harder for a comeback.

To speak of the England innings, one of Hussain’s first pronouncements on returning for the ODIs, earlier this month, revolved around putting India under pressure. Also, that India were prone to speedily succumbing.

Today, though, the boot was quite on the other foot. But for two brief phases, when Marcus Trescothick (36 in 34 deliveries) threatened to play an Eden Gardens type of innings and the 60-run partnership for the seventh-wicket between Ben Hollioake and Snape, the pressure was on England.

And, well, they cracked. Hollioake, for instance, returned cursing himself. Just as well, for he was nowhere near finishing the assigned job when he threw away his wicket (202 for eight).

Objective No.1 for any team batting first is to utilise all 50 overs. England, as it turned out, were dismissed in 48 and this alone cost them dear. The cavalier approach of some batsmen too.

With Trescothick in majestic flow, it seemed England (after winning the toss) would be closer to 300 than 250. In the event, despite best use of the wicket (which had bounce and afforded movement), Hussain’s team didn’t even get to 225.

At the break, then, cock-a-hoop were the Indians, being led by one-time vice-captain Kumble.

Hussain himself failed in an appearance which won’t be remembered as just another England cap-earning outing. The captain scored one before becoming Bangar’s maiden victim to a slower one.

Thanks to the Trescothick start, England did get to a shade under five in the first 15 overs, but lost three wickets. Only somebody with character — perhaps a Graham Thorpe — could have anchored recovery.

However, with Thorpe still on the bench (England kept faith in the Cuttack XI) and the Michael Vaughans unable to turn on the heat, Kumble didn’t have to think many moves ahead. Moreover, he could persist with an aggressive field.

Soft dismissals don’t quite help any team’s cause. If anything, they make a huge difference in a crunch match. This is one lesson England will learn.

Significantly, in the overs of death, Agarkar scripted another deadly performance to force that early wrap-up. Having surprised Trescothick with the bounce in spell No.1, Agarkar evicted Snape (38 off 60 balls), Hollioake (37 in 61 deliveries) and Darren Gough in his second.

Snape and Gough paid for playing across and, sitting in the dressing room, Sourav must again have been mighty pleased. Often taken to task at selection committee meetings, this series has (for Agarkar) turned into payback-time.

Agarkar finished with four for 34 from nine overs, the day’s best figures by the width of the Cauvery. Kumble had two for 37. Incidentally, Kumble gave Harbhajan Singh and himself identical first spells — eight overs apiece. At a crucial time, both delivered. Vaughan, England’s top-scorer, got 43 off 59 balls (4x4).

Guidelines likely

Meanwhile, the Board is set to list what should be shown and what ‘censored’ at centres where video-screens get installed. “Sooner rather than later, we will have to put things in black-and-white,” secretary Niranjan Shah told The Telegraph.

That is necessary as controversial replays can incite crowds and trigger mayhem. This afternoon, for example, umpire Vijay Chopra didn’t refer a very close run out call to third umpire B.A.Jamula and, when the newly-installed screen replayed the sequence, the huge turnout was more than agitated. It didn’t help that Jawagal Srinath made a gesture.

This must be avoided.


Chennai, Jan. 25: 
Had Sachin Tendulkar been “willing”, the national selectors would have appointed him stand-in captain and not Anil Kumble. A pointer, really, as to where they could be looking should a situation ever be reached where Sourav Ganguly has to be replaced.

The selectors, of course, didn’t directly interact with Sachin — the “offer” was made by a senior board official.

Sources confirmed what appeared in The Telegraph today — that Sachin “declined” to step in for the injured Sourav. It’s debatable whether the former captain would have said “yes” had the appointment been for the last four ODIs and not just today’s game.

Sourav, after all, is only out of the third ODI.

Sachin, incidentally, relinquished the captaincy 22 months ago. His first innings, in the hot seat, had ended midway during the 1997-98 season when the then selectors brought back Mohammed zharuddin.

The selectors, who formally met this morning, began ‘hunting’ for a captain as regular vice-captain Rahul Dravid is undergoing treatment overseas. Given the selectors’ mood, there’s no certainty the job would have gone to Dravid even if was around.

Apparently, not everybody in the five-man committee is convinced Dravid walks into the one-day XI.

Meanwhile, speaking exclusively, Kumble remarked he was “honoured” at being asked to captain.

“Any butterflies in the stomach? None at all,” he insisted, shortly before leading India for the first time.


Chennai, Jan. 25: 
Speaking exclusively the other day, Nasser Hussain compared unofficial England vice-captain Marcus Trescothick to Graham Gooch, a stalwart of the recent past. Specifically, Hussain spoke of “character” and “composure” — on and off the field.

Last evening, in a chat with The Telegraph, a distinctly pleased Trescothick said he was “flattered” by the comparison made by his captain.

“Indeed, it’s very flattering to be compared to Gooch... During the course of my career, I hope to go the same way... Gooch was an outstanding opening batsman and, clearly, I can learn much from the attitude and dedication he showed...”

Not that anybody will disagree with Hussain’s assessment of the 26-year-old Trescothick, but it’s one more pointer to the remarkable way he backs his players.

Not surprisingly, Trescothick (MoM in the opening one-dayer), in turn, himself paid tribute to Hussain’s captaincy. “I continue to learn so much... His man-management, the field placements... His own composure... I don’t exactly have a role model captain, but if I have to name one, it will be Hussain.”

Trescothick, incidentally, led England in one of the ODIs in Zimbabwe at the start of this season. Well, what was that experience like?

“I was a bit nervous in the lead-up but, the plans worked and we won...Frankly, it’s difficult being stand-in captain, because you’re at the helm for just that one match or whatever... The authority-issue comes in...” Trescothick, who will be leading Somerset this summer, remarked.

As Hussain is unsure of continuing beyond the 2003 World Cup, is he mentally preparing for the hot seat? Trescothick’s response was lightning-like: “My job, as I see it, is to improve and be consistent as an opener. Beyond that, I’m not looking at anything.”

Among present-day openers, by the way, Trescothick has immense admiration for Matthew Hayden. Of those who have retired, Trescothick respects Desmond Haynes and Mark Taylor. Of course, Gooch as well.


Chennai, Jan. 25: 
Though Nasser Hussain had maintained his father, Jawad, wouldn’t be present during the third ODI here today, Hussain Senior did in fact make an appearance late yesterday itself.

“Frankly, I didn’t know about it till this morning,” confessed team spokesman Andy Walpole, reacting to a report that Jawad was very much there during a function where the city-born England captain was made an honorary life member of the Madras Cricket Club.

The spokesman added: “Obviously, Jawad Hussain made a late decision (intended to surprise) about coming here...”

Earlier, speaking to The Telegraph, Hussain had spoken of his father generally being wary of flying and, so, having no plans of making his second trip to India in just over a month. As it turned out, Jawad didn’t wish to miss a great moment for the Hussain family.


Chennai, Jan. 25: 
The national selectors have effected one change in the XIV for the last three ODIs against England. With V.V.S. Laxman again not scoring big, he has had to make way for India’s under-19 World Cup-winning captain Mohammed Kaif.

Virender Sehwag, too, was under the scanner but his innings of 51 today ‘saved’ him. A low score and it’s more than likely that Yuvraj Singh would have been recalled.

The remaining ODIs will be played in Kanpur, New Delhi and Mumbai.


Calcutta, Jan. 25: 
Sasthi Duley’s conversion of a 58th minute penalty kick handed Tollygunge Agragami a deserved 1-0 win over FC Kochin in their ninth round clash of the National Football League at Salt Lake Stadium today.

Tollygunge striker Ashim Biswas, having collected a long cross from the left, entered the rival box, dodged past a defender but was illegally challenged by substitute Kulothungan and referee Mrinal Kanti Roy had no hesitation in awarding the home team a spot kick. Duley’s shot foxed custodian Ali Abubaker, forcing him to dive to the wrong side.

Tollygunge looked a rejuvenated lot under new coach Aolke Mukherjee, determined to overcome the trauma of losing 0-4 to Churchill Brothers at the same venue in their previous match.

Their midfield and wing-play in particular, led by the diminutive Duley, also showed a lot of purpose and remained a constant source of innumerable attacks towards the rival area. But Tollygunge strikers did everything but finding the target, making their defence to survive the odd anxious moments to protect the lead.

However, the visitors’ attacks came in bits and ends and their strikers — V.P. Shaji and Dileep Kumar — made a few sorties in the attacking third. But it was a couple of long-range attempts by captain L. Suresh — both going just over — that really threatened to destabilise Tollygunge.

Much of the credit for a new-look Tollygunge Agragami, following coach Amal Dutta’s resignation in the last match, should go to captain Duley and the hard-working trio of Mehtab Hossain, Sandip Das and Khemtang Paite in the midfield.

If a couple of headers from inside the box — one each by Paite and Moses Owira inside the first ten minutes — were to be taken as early indications of Tollygunge’s supremacy, Ashim on two occasions and Mehtab once, had none but themselves to blame for failing to keep the ball on target from close.

Duley made an excellent solo run from the edge of his box and released the ball for Paite in the open after reaching the rival penalty area and the former swung in a measured cross for a moving Mehtab to the far end. The Tollygunge midfielder beat Abubaker in the air with his header but the ball went past the left post.


TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Sandip Nandy; Srikrishna Ghosh, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Satish Bharti, Amitabha Chanda; Mehtab Hossain, Sandip Das, N. Khemtang Paite, Sasthi Duley; Ashim Biswas (Prahlad Rawat, 72m), Moses Owira.

FC KOCHIN: Ali Abubaker; Dinesh Nair, L. Suresh, Obinna Winners, Mohammed Shafeeq, Rajesh Pandey (Kulothungan, 50), E. Muhammed, K. Noushad, Niaz Rehman, V.P. Shaji (Hamsheed Ghan, 89), Dileep Kumar.

Referee: Mrinal Kanti Roy (Assam).


New Delhi, Jan. 25: 
Mohun Bagan will meet JCT, while East Bengal will take on Punjab Police in their opening matches in the 114th Durand Cup to be played here from February 2- 16.

Pre-quarter final groupings

Group 1: Border Security Force (BSF), Indian Navy and Qualifier from Gr. A

Group II: Army XI, Indian nationals and qualifier from Gr. B. Quarter final league groupings are as follows: Group A: Mohun Bagan, JCT and ITI Bangalore; Group B: East Bengal, Salgaocar S.C. and Punjab Police; Group C: Mahindra United, F.C. Kochin and qualifier from Prelim. Group 1; Group D: Zee Churchill Brothers, All India Football Federation (AIFF) U-19 years and qualifier from Preliminary Group 2. Semi finals: Winner of Gr. A vs winner of Gr. C on Feb. 13. Winner of Gr. B vs winner of Gr. D on Feb. 14. Final on Feb. 16. Quarter final league draw: Feb. 6: JCT vs ITI and Salgaocar vs Punjab Police; Feb. 7: F.C. Kochin vs Prel. Gr. 1 winner and AIFF U-19 vs Prelim. Gr. 2 winner; Feb. 8: East Bengal vs Punjab Police and Mohun Bagan vs JCT; Feb. 9: Mahindra United vs Prelim. Gr. 1 and Zee Churchill Bros. vs Prel. Gr. 2 winner; Feb. 10: Mohun Bagan vs ITI and East Bengal vs Salgaocar; Feb. 11: Zee Churchill Bros. vs AIFF U-19 and Mahindra United vs F.C. Kochin


Bangalore, Jan. 25: 
Hope And Faith from Z. Darashah’s yard is fancied to win the Indian Republic Trophy here tomorrow. K. P. Appu partners the Broto-Maman Zimbie filly.


2.30 pm: Flowington 1. Cool Jazz 2. So Supreme 3.
3 pm: Great Splendour 1. Dance At Nine 2. Living Together 3.
3.30 pm: Rock Party 1. Moonlight Rays 2. Peace Desire 3.
4 pm: Hope And Faith 1. Arrakis 2. Antwerp 3.
4.30 pm: What A Pleasure 1. Saujas 2. Arzillo 3.
5 pm: Silvertre 1. Star of Heaven 2. Private Emotion 3..
5.30 pm: Special Request 1. Pride Fisher 2. Indigenous 3.

Day’s Best: Flowington

Double: Great Splendour & Silvertre

Bangalore, Jan. 25: 
Almond won the Racing Patrons Trophy in Bangalore on Friday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Madhavanagar Plate 1,200m: (2-7-1) Superior Force (Prakash) 1; Ithica 2; The Soothsayer 3. Won by: Dist; 2; (1-15.9). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 11; 13; 42; Quinella: 16; Tanala: 193. Fav: Superior Force (2).

2. Davanagere Cup 1,400m: (5-11-12) Golden Estate (Srinath) 1; National Star 2; River Bed 3. Not run: Crystal Goblet (10). Won by: 4-1/4; Hd; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 16; 333; 35; Quinella: 3,330; Tanala: 13,725. Fav: Pink Squirrel (3).

3. Racing Patrons Trophy 1,200m: (1-3-6) Almond (A. Imran) 1; Winelight 2; Grisogono 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1/2; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 259; Place: 70; 17; Quinella: 357; Tanala: 3,598. Fav: Grisogono (6).

4. Kabini Plate 1,200m: (8-1-2) Secret Halo (Harish) 1; Chity Bang 2; Soviet Bay 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1; (1-16). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 16; 34; 16; Quinella: 148; Tanala: 963. Fav: Secret Halo (8).

5. Kollur Plate 1,100m: (4-3-8) Noble Minstrel (Prakash) 1; I Am Beautiful 2; Ace of Pace 3. Won by: Nk; 1/2; (1-10.7). Tote: Win Rs 42; Place: 16; 11; 23; Quinella: 44; Tanala: 480. Fav: I Am Beautiful (3).

6. Lalitmahal Plate 1,200m: (1-2-9) Rythm N’ Blues (Appu) 1; Scarlet Runner 2; Fleet Craft 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-3/4; (1-18.2). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 14; 14; 73; Quinella: 38; Tanala: 1,227. Fav: Rythm N’ Blues (1).

Jackpot: Rs 62,961; (C) Rs Rs 7,870.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,230; (ii) Rs 407.

Calcutta, Jan. 25: 
Acceptor was impressive during today’s track trials.

Outer sand track

1,600m: Calorescence (Surender) in 2-6s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 31s. Easy.

1,400m: Cool Quest (Som S.) in 1-39s; (800m) 59s; (400m) 30s. Moved well. Lady Shirley (Rb) in 1-53; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 32s. Easy. Acklins (Rb) in 1-54s;(800m) 1-4s; (400m) 33s. The Stud (Rb) in 1-46s; (800m) 1-3s (400m) 32s. Easy. Ever So Loyal (Rb) in 1-47s; (800m) 58s;(400m) 29s. Wakamba Warrior (Amil) in 1-38s; (800m) 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Note.

1,200m: Acceptor (Rb) in 1-25s; (800m) 55s; (400m) 29s. Good. Automatic (Surender) and Assailer (C. Alford) in 1-33s; (800m) 1-0s;(400m) 32s. Former was a length better. Both were easy.

1,000m: Alsheim (Amil) and Altiama (Shanker) in 1-14s; (400m) 29s. They were level and they moved well Lockers Park (Rabani) in 1-16s; (400m) 30s. Fit. Alamito (C. Alford) in 1-14s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Aberdan (Rabani) in 1-20s; (400m) 33s.

800m: Silver Toy (Rb) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Alicyclic (C. Alford) and Anolini (Domingo) in 57s; (400m) 29s. They were level and they were handy. Jungle Cat (Som S.) in 58s; (400m) 29s. Easy. Alumina (C. Alford) in 58s; (400m) 30s. Annella (Surender) in (400m) 30s. Fit. Set Aside (Rb) in 1-2s; (400m) 29s. Flamebird (Gowli) in 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Kyalami (Rutherford), Red Trident (Brij S.) and Declarationoflove (Tamang) in 57s; (400m) 28s. All three were level and were handy.

Sand track

1,600m: Mack The Knife (Rutherford) in 2-3s; (800m) 1-2s; (400m) 31s. Earl Grey (K. Kumar) in 2-1s; (800m) 1-1s; (400m) 28s.

1,400m: Arian (P. Alford) in 1-49s; (800m) 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Bul Bul (Rb) in 1-45s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 33s. Iron Warrior (Upadhya) in 1-47s; (800m) 1-1s; (400m) 31s. Harry The Horse (Rutherford) in 1-49s; (800m) 1-3s; (400m) 32s. Sweet Painted Lady (Brij S.) in 1-33s; (800m) 54s; (400m) 28s. Good.

1,200m: Forest Fair/Gold Souk (Brij) and Proicda-Daulat (Rb) in 1-24s; (800m) 56s; (400m) 29s. Former was far better. They are two-year-olds.

1,000m: Tajik (P. Alford) and Dancing Dreams (Rutherford) in 1-4s; (400m) 24s. Former was a distance better. Note.

800m: Immaculate (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Easy. Madame X (Upadhya) in 1-0s; (400m) 32s. Crowned Prince (Connorton) in 56s; (600m) 42s; (400m) 28s.    


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