Indians crumble under pressure again
John’s Wright connection
Dravid to reach India Saturday
Barreto: The ball-charmer from Brazil with ‘legs of God’
Shyambazar trounce Md. Sp.
Indian Navy routed
1146 donate blood at CAB camp
Sabyasachi qualifies
Mumbai Racing/ Starsky wins in pulsating finish

 
 
INDIANS CRUMBLE UNDER PRESSURE AGAIN 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Mumbai, Feb. 3: 
ENGLAND 255 (49.1 overs)
INDIA 250 (49.5)
MoM: Trescothick
MoS: Tendulkar

Losing winning-games. It’s one habit the Indians can’t get away from. And, yes, it does hurt.

Just when the decks were clear for India to exorcise the ghost of Wankhede, specifically obliterate memories of an appalling performance (even though it was a Test match) on the last appearance here, they folded quicker than deck chairs tonight.

At 206 for four, India had everything going to script a 4-2 scoreline in the ODIs. As it turned out, England won by five runs with a ball remaining — a result which tied the series 3-3.

While Andrew Flintoff, who bowled the sensational last over and deserved the Man of the Match award, took off his shirt and leapt and danced, Sourav Ganguly could only kick at whatever came in sight. It’s too much for even the toughest of captains to digest two close defeats in four days.

“Yet again, we threw it away... Yes, we should have won... It’s an inexperienced team and, hopefully, the youngsters will learn,” remarked an utterly dejected Sourav, who would surely have been MoM had the result been otherwise on a distinctly lively wicket.

Nasser Hussain, with one more feather in his cap, saluted his players by saying if they could “play like this in India,” they could play the same anywhere. Sourav may not quite agree, but Hussain has been proved right about the Indians succumbing to pressure.

Given the start England had (107 for two from the first 15), Hussain acknowledged his team should have touched 300. But, as he put it, “the boys knew they had messed up and that only they could set it right.” They did, with self-belief and a determination to not crack.

A character-show, really.

Man of the Series Sachin Tendulkar, surprised by the bounce and late movement from Darren Gough, didn’t last as long as he and the thousands who packed the Wankhede would have liked, and Virender Sehwag produced a cameo.

However, with Sourav in absolute command and Dinesh Mongia lending admirable support, it appeared India would win with much to spare. But Mongia departed after a 67-run association and with Sourav himself falling at 191 (37th-over), it was left to the Mohammed Kaifs and Hemang Badanis to try and see India home.

[Sourav, who top-scored with a sparkling 80 (99 deliveries, 4x4, 4x6), was bowled attempting to sweep Ashley Giles.]

Kaif played a poor shot, while Badani never even came close to stamping authority. He remained unbeaten, only that’s hardly a feat. At the other end, Ajay Ratra (despite a let-off) did a Kaif and Ajit Agarkar kept his duck-record intact. The Harbhajan Singhs alone couldn’t deliver and, there, one wasn’t disappointed.

Eventually, it came to India requiring 11 from the last over. The first three balls produced five and the fourth saw Anil Kumble run out by the bowler, Flintoff. No. 11 Jawagal Srinath simply had to bat blind: He did and paid the expected penalty.

While England pulled off one of their best one-day victories, the Indians left no one in doubt that character wasn’t quite overflowing in their ranks.

Earlier, England got off to a ferocious start and recovered reasonably towards the end. Mid-innings, though, they were struck by yet another of Harbhajan’s devastating spells. He was brilliant and, in his own way, conveyed a message to the selectors.

Indeed, from 153 for two (after winning the toss) England crashed to 174 for seven, before the ‘tail’ added those 81 decisive runs.

Harbhajan, of course, returned career-best figures of five for 43 — also the best by an Indian at the Wankhede. Till this afternoon, that record was Manoj Prabhakar’s: Four for 19 against Zimbabwe in the 1987 World Cup.

But the cynosure till Harbhajan reinforced his ‘Turbanator’ image was England’s unofficial vice-captain Marcus Trescothick. He made the most of a let-off on duck by Badani (off Srinath), on delivery No.1 itself, and batted sans any pressure at all.

Actually, it’s not difficult comprehending just why Hussain, for one, rates Trescothick so highly. The other day, he compared the left-hander’s composure with that of one-time stalwart Graham Gooch. He was spot-on.

Yet, that’s not all as Trescothick has strokes on both sides and can either effect neat placements or launch into power-packed drives or square-cuts. Effortlessly at that, a quality possessed by class batters. Incidentally, he finished the ODIs with an impressive tally — 319.

Trescothick featured in two attractive (and effective) partnerships: 87 for the second-wicket with captain Hussain and 65 for the third with Michael Vaughan. Hussain, who played a significant hand in neutralising Nick Knight’s very early loss, got past 40 for the third time this series but, again, didn’t get to fifty.

Sourav, who had to introduce himself early owing to Agarkar being smashed to just about every corner (five overs costing 47, including seven wides), sent back both Hussain (41 in 38 deliveries, 6x4) and Vaughan.

Hussain fell trying to send his counterpart beyond the Marine Drive, while a complacent Vaughan was superbly stumped by Ratra. The wicketkeeper, in fact, stumped Graham Thorpe (the first Harbhajan victim) as well. This time, off a wide.

Thorpe, clearly out of place throughout the series, was quickly followed by Trescothick (95 off 80 balls, 9x4, 1x6). Deceived in the air, Trescothick could only offer a return-catch to a delirious Harbhajan. Paul Collingwood survived seven deliveries before being excellently taken by Sehwag.

That diving effort off-set Sehwag’s slow response (on two occasions) in the slips cord-on, early in the innings.

Two balls later, Sehwag did a repeat, this time in the very area he was found wanting at the start. With Giles also returning to the dressing room, England were reduced to 174 for seven and with in excess of 20 overs remaining, a terribly premature closure was on the cards.

However, the ‘tail’ didn’t quite capitulate as quickly as Sourav would have liked. England may even have fared better had Andrew Caddick not been so ambitious. After all, the priority then was to last the 50 overs.

Caddick’s departure had been preceded by James Foster’s, who became Harbhajan’s fifth victim. Last man out was Flintoff (40 in 50 deliveries, 4x4, 1x6).

Absolute chaos

It’s not known how many genuine ticket-holders were denied entry, but the Mumbai Cricket Association’s management did leave something to be desired. There was chaos in the President’s Box too with many invitees having to stand awkwardly before being assigned seats.

Sachin’s wife Anjali, who made a rare appearance, had to wait for a few minutes (in Ritu Shastri’s company) before being invited by Raj Singh Dungarpur to join him. Then, when Marshneil Gavaskar turned up, she had to initially share Ritu’s seat.

The former First Ladies of Indian cricket weren’t amused.

   

 
 
JOHN’S WRIGHT CONNECTION 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Mumbai, Feb. 3: 
Sourav Ganguly and Steve Waugh were cold towards each other during the last India versus Australia series, a year ago, but the two coaches hit it off rather well.

Indeed, unlike the captains, John Wright and John Buchanan have been in contact via e-mail. And, when Wright requested Buchanan to “recommend” candidates for the physical trainer’s post, the Australian promptly responded with three names.

Of course, it’s significant that both Wright and Buchanan have the “highest regard” for each other.

“It’s nice for John to have responded so quickly. Moreover, by forwarding three names, he has given us a wider option,” Wright told The Telegraph last evening.

As the names will first be discussed with Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya, Wright didn’t go into details, but did say “all three” are currently working with the state sides in Australia.

A Bloemfontein-based South African, too, is in the running to be appointed Indian cricket’s first pro physical trainer. In fact, as he is an expert at fielding drills as well, it shouldn’t surprise if the job eventually goes to him.

Wright, it is understood, will meet Dalmiya in the next couple of days and, so, the trainer’s appointment could well be made before the Test series against Zimbabwe (beginning February 21).

Both Wright and captain Sourav Ganguly have been strongly advocating the need for a physical trainer. And, when Wright formally proposed that the Board appoint one, Dalmiya didn’t think twice before agreeing.

More than anything else, the trainer will allow Andrew Leipus to concentrate wholly on the physio’s job. Given the amount of cricket being played, and in such diverse conditions, that itself is more than a full-time role.

For the record, Leipus’ contract has already been extended till next year’s World Cup.

Rajasthan trip

Meanwhile, Wright is set to make a three-day trip to Rajasthan — probably late this week itself — to work with the state’s promising youngsters. The visit will be in response to a long-standing “invitation” from the Jaipur-based Board treasurer, Kishore Rungta.    

 
 
DRAVID TO REACH INDIA SATURDAY 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Mumbai, Feb.3: 
Regular vice-captain Rahul Dravid, who is undergoing a shoulder-specific rehabilitation programme in Johannesburg, returns home on February 9.

“He’s been doing well and, as of now, will be back on Saturday,” informed the Indian team’s physio, Andrew Leipus, during a chat with The Telegraph this morning. He quickly added, though: “Look, Dravid isn’t recovering from an injury... He only went over for a programme to prevent a career-threatening injury to his right shoulder.”

Leipus, incidentally, is leaving for his adopted home (Jo’Burg) straight after the day-night ODI at the Wankhede and, so, will “catch up” with Dravid in person instead of just communicating via e-mail.

Of course, it’s Leipus who did the needful before Dravid’s departure in early-January.

   

 
 
BARRETO: THE BALL-CHARMER FROM BRAZIL WITH ‘LEGS OF GOD’ 
 
 
BY NILESH BHATTACHARYA
 
Calcutta, Feb. 3: 
Make no mistake. God resides in Jose Ramirez Barreto’s goals. Or you could attribute the gamut of his accomplishment to the ‘legs of God’.

A religious man to the hilt, the new sensation in Indian football believes that everything — even his free-wheeling prowl in the attacking third, often culminating in some extraordinary goals — has a purpose in itself, because he is under spiritual obligation to serve God.

“Jesus is my word, every breath of my life… my everything. Whatever I do, I believe, is what He wants me to do. I am always under an obligation to Him,” is how the 23-year old describes himself.

Goals against Punjab Police, East Bengal and Churchill Brothers in the ongoing National Football League, have given him “cool satisfaction”, he admits, but hastens to add that these are “fruits of my love for Jesus”.

“Each day, I pray to God to give me more power and strength… to help me play better. I hope I don’t have to wait too long for that moment,” Barreto said in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph.

The wily striker has the words “Jesus my Saviour” scripted on his jersey and it was following some friends’ suggestion that he had the words translated into Bengali. “But the real power comes from within,” he clarified.

Perhaps out of this God-fearing temperament, comes an unmistakable sense of bonding with his more mundane provider of livelihood — Mohun Bagan. “I feel proud to play for Mohun Bagan. The club has given everything — I mean, mentally and economically,” he maintains.

The indignity, meted out to him during the trials for Mohun Bagan in September, 1999 (coach Subrata Bhattachara had him sat on a bench under blazing sun for a couple of hours), is still vivid in his mind, but he has never thought of leaving India’s national club.

“A more lucrative offer — be it from an Indian club or a foreign one — may force me to ponder switching. But I leave it to the God. I always cherish those moments when I was of some help to Mohun Bagan... I have a special attachment with it,” Barreto modestly observes.

He has respect for East Bengal and picks out India captain Bhaichung Bhutia and his teammate Basudeb Mondal for special mention. But that’s it. He never wants to stir up a world he lives in, which is very much his own.

Barreto, thus, put an end to speculations over his likely desertion from the green and maroon brigade in the next season.

Incidentally, it was on another “spiritual mission”, he came to India and joined Mohun Bagan despite knowing that football in this part of the world lies “in preliminary stage”, as compared to his motherland Brazil and other European countries.

“I really don’t know why I came here. Maybe there were some spiritual objectives that insisted on my landing in India,” Barreto said.

Every afternoon, a bunch of chirpy little students, on their way back from school by bus, makes a stop-over in front of his Salt Lake residence. Leaving everything aside he comes out to wave to them, sometimes with his two-year old daughter, Natalia, in his arms.

But unfazed by such accolades and adulation, he strives for more. “My best is yet to come,” says a grinning Barreto, who wants to mould himself after Zinedine Zidane (for his allround ability) and Romario (for his appetite for goals).

This also has an obvious relation to his past back home. “I came from a very poor family. My father (Aldo) used to work in a market in my hometown of Bage (south Brazil). We had to struggle a lot, really a lot, to overcome the economic recession at that time,” he maintained.

As he set out to come to terms with the hard road to success through his childhood passion, his love for Veronica, his wife, helped bring order to his life. “Our marriage (in 1997) was result of a two-year courting. Apart from Jesus, my family has always been an inspiration to me,” Barreto said.

Together, they also see a dream — dream of playing for Brazil. “I don’t know if it will ever be possible. But I have faith in God. It is Veronica’s dream, my dream too.”

   

 
 
SHYAMBAZAR TROUNCE MD. SP. 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb.3: 
Anirudh Roy remained unbeaten on 201 as Shyambazar trounced Mohammedan Sporting SC by 151 runs while East Bengal whipped George Telegraph by 255 runs on the second day of their CAB first division league match today.

SUMMARISED SCORES

Kumartuli Institute 352/9 (G. Kapoor 78, A. Ghosh 75). Paikpara Sporting 220/7 (M. Saini 63; P. Banerjee 4/63). Match drawn.

Shyambazar Instt. 376/8 (A. Roy 201n.o.; P. Shukla 4/117). Md. Sporting SC 225 (S. Singh, S. Husain 62; A. Chatterjee 5/67). Shyambazar won by 151 runs.

Ballygunge Utd. 322/9. Tollygunge Agragami 293/4 (A. Khatua 102n.0., K. Ganguly 100n.o.). Match drawn.

DKS 291 (S. Chowdhury 101, K. Dhal 43, D. Mondal 43; A. Basu 4/65). Customs 23/1. Match drawn.

East Bengal 362/7. George Telegraph 107 (D. Singh 4/17). East Bengal won by 255 runs.

Wari AC 373/6. Young Bengal 281/6 (P. Mukerjee 86n.o., M. Roy 52). Match drawn.

Rajasthan Club 395. High Court 251/5 (A. Singh 70, R. Jaiswal 61; G. Sharma 3/52). Match drawn.

   

 
 
INDIAN NAVY ROUTED 
 
 
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Feb. 3: 
Karim’s City Club of Delhi routed Indian Navy 3-0 in a group I clash of the Durand Cup pre-quarter final league today. The winners, along with BSF are now jointly topping the group, with three points each. Their clash tomorrow will decide the group winner.

BSF, with a goal difference of +four as compared to City Club’s +3, need just a draw to join Mahindra United and FC Kochin in group C of the quarter final league.

In a group II match, SAIL Indian Nationals drew 1-1 with Tarun Sangha. With this verdict, Army XI are just a draw away from joining Churchill Brothers and AIFF under-19 team in group D of the quarter final league.

City Club forged ahead in the 18th minute via Sunil Chetri. In the second half, City Club scored twice in the 76th and 89th minutes through winger Afroz Ahmed and substitute midfielder Shyam Kumar, respectively.

Earlier, Tarun Sangha went ahead through Suklal Murmu’s 86-minute header. But when victory seemed imminent for Tarun Sangha, Indian National’s Kenyan striker Cassius Owino, a former player for Mohammedan Sporting, broke the off-side trap and scored the equaliser in the 90th minute.

   

 
 
1146 DONATE BLOOD AT CAB CAMP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 3: 
Enthused by the presence of the legendary West Indies pace bowler Wesley Hall, 1146 people donated blood at the camp organised by the Cricket Association of Bengal to observe Frank Worrell Day at the Dr B.C. Roy Club House at Eden Gardens today.

Hall, the chief guest at today’s function, was visibly overwhelmed by the scale of the camp.

The CAB’s foundation day was also observed today with its president Jagmohan Dalmiya hoisting the association flag at the Club House.

Apart from the donors at the Eden, more than 460 people donated blood at camps organised in the districts.

Dipak Sen best

Dipak Sen of the advertisement department emerged Best Sportsman of the Year at the ABP 41st annual sports, which concluded at the Taltala Institute grounds today.

Dipak finished first in the 100 & 200m.

Among the ladies, Tilottama Dutta won the 75m run and the musical chairs event.

In the children’s fancy dress event, Tania Gupta as Jesus Christ, came first while Anirban Banik as Lagaan’s Bhuvan came second. Ayush Seal dressed as Batman came third.

Administration won the tug-of-war event followed by Marketing Services and Cycle Peons.

Former Ananda Bazar Patrika chief reporter Sudeb Roy Chowdhury was chief guest.

   

 
 
SABYASACHI QUALIFIES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 3: 
Local lad Sabyasachi Bose along with VM Ranjeet and Abhay Prakash MV and Israel’s Lior Barbash qualified for the boys’ section of the ITF junior tennis meet being held at DKS from February 4-9. Girls who qualified are Sharmishtha Chaudhuri and Karina Ahuja.

FINAL ROUND RESULTS

Boys: VM Ranjeet bt Kripakar M 4-6, 6-1, 6-2; Sabyasachi Bose bt Vikramaditya Menon 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5); Abhay Prakash MV bt Ajai Selvaraj 6-4, 7-5; Lior Barbash bt Luo Jie 6-1, 6-2.

Girls: Sharmishtha Chaudhuri bt Devanshi Rajgarhia 6-0, 6-4; Karina Ahuja bt Heena Valechha 6-0, 6-3.

   

 
 
MUMBAI RACING/ STARSKY WINS IN PULSATING FINISH 
 
 
FROM PRAVESH GUPTA
 
Mumbai, Feb. 3: 
Ansbach lasted the trip alright but Starsky stayed the 2,400m circuit still better. That was the story of today’s premium event, the McDowell Indian Derby held at the Mahalaxmi race course. The short-head verdict separated the two prized horses and jockey Prakash needs to be complimented for maintaining his cool in a tight situation that developed in the final furlong of the race. Coming the longest way home, literally from the tail-end of the field, Aslam Kader on Ansbach enjoyed a marginal advantage over Starsky who breathed down his neck from the distance-post onwards. It was the beginning of the battle of wits between a jockey who had ruled the Mahalaxmi racecourse for nearly two decades and a youngster on the horizon making winnings a habit. There was hardly an indication that the advantage would be lost by Ansbach until the Alnasar Alwasheek-Pass The Secret colt started shifting-in in the direction of Starsky, thus pushing the Selkirk-Zaya son towards the rails. It was also the beginning of an pulsating finish between the two as the rest in the field were hardly making any headway. Kader was helpless despite his best efforts and so was Prakash seeking an end to this shifting-in ordeal that, however, followed soon. Starsky, a 15-1 shot, could not have gone beyond the rails, thus prompting his jockey to adopt the do-and-die tactics and the Mehra Stud bred horse just about managed to push his nostrils ahead in the last 20 metres to clinch the issue.

The victory, obviously brought joy in one camp and gloom to the other. Trainer Dallas Todywalla was short of words as he came out to lead-in. “I say, I say, it’s amazing;” MAM Ramaswamy, however, paid glowing compliments to Pesi Shroff, once his arch enemy following a long suspension, handed by the Madras Race Club on flimsy grounds. Pesi had made suggestion to Todywalla that Starsky is capable of taking two solid gallops in a week. The jockey only indicated that Starsky was a thorough stayer with an obvious reference as a potential candidate for the Derby. Todywalla followed Pesi’s advise to the word to go into the record books for cutting the smartest time over the Derby trip. Incidentally, it was Todywalla’s second success in the Indian Derby, having won his first through Star Supreme in the year 1998. For Prakash, it was his maiden success and while it was his fifth for Ramaswamy who also completed his 346th classic success on the Indian turf.

The Derby favourite, Wild Eagle, never appeared to be comfortable beyond the final turn and it didn’t come as a surprise when the Arti Doctor-trainee packed up. It was not a packed house but a crowd of near 25,000 enjoyed every bit of the Derby Day thrills alongwith the live telecast of the India-England match on a giant screen.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends)

1. Fair Haven Trophy 1,000m: (6-2-10) Tio Pepe (McCullagh) 1; Rosehill Gardens 2; Newyearseve 3. Won by: 6-1/2; 2; (1-0.6). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 15; 17; Quinella: 45; Tanala: 179. Fav: Tio Pepe (6).

2.Our Select Trophy 1,000m: (7-8-12) Emblaze (Ruzaan) 1; Handsome Lad 2; Dotcom 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 1-1/4; (1-0.6). Tote: Win Rs 325; Place: 42; 17; 25; Quinella: 527; Tanala: 9,695. Fav: Touch Wood (3).

3. Rose Royal Trophy 1,600m: (3-2-9) Secret Force (Lemaire) 1; Saphire Princess 2; Idolize 3. Won by: 4-3/4; 3-1/4; (1-40). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 20; 59; 81; Quinella: 440; Tanala: 18,427. Fav: Secret Force (3).

4. K. T. Sampat Trophy 1,000m: (8-6-5) Terrestrial (Rajendra) 1; Consortium 2; Meringue 3. Won by: 4; 1-3/4; (59.4). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 13; 28; 29; Quinella: 167; Tanala: 1,131. Fav: Aprilia (1).

5. Indictment Trophy 1,200m: (9-1-4) Free Radical (Lemaire) 1; Aerospace 2; Music Prospector 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 14; 39; 18; Quinella: 207; Tanala: 880. Fav: Free Radical (9).

6.Breeders’ Produce Stakes 1,400m: (7-3-4) Ice Magic (McCullagh) 1; Noble Executive 2; Star Councillor 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 7-1/2; (1-26). Tote: Win Rs 47; Place: 17; 14; 25; Quinella: 49; Tanala: 578. Fav: Noble Executive (3).

7.R.N. Kanga Gold Trophy 1,400m: (11-10-6) Southern Star (Chauhan) 1; Realism 2; Crowning Moment 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/4; (1-25.2). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 17; 133; 16; Quinella: 1,365; Tanala: 25,671. Fav: Afilado (9).

8.McDowell Indian Derby 2,400m: (10-1-3-11) Starsky (Prakash) 1; Ansbach (Kader) 2; El Campeador (M. Narredu) 3; The Pelican (Kinane) 4. Won by: SH; 2-3/4; 1/2; (2-30). Tote: Win Rs 144; Place: 34; 17; 37; Quinella: 205; Tanala: 3,672. Fav: Wild Eagle (12).

9.Commoner Trophy 1,200m: (6-1-14) Star Wish (Rajendra) 1; Silver Blue 2; Aylesfield 3. Not run: Senor Pele (2). Won by: 3-3/4; 2-3/4; (1-12). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 13; 77; 125; Quinella: 596; Tanala: 28,959. Fav: Star Wish (6).

10.Rsoe De Bahama Trophy 2,400m: (9-8-2) Allianz (Appu) 1; Weathering 2; Resist 3. Won by: 3; 1-1/4; (2-40.5). Tote: Win Rs 80; Place: 22; 22; 26; Quinella: 420; Tanala: 4,949. Fav: Cajun King (6).

Jackpot: Rs 87,369; (C) Rs 1,626.

Treble: (i) Rs 8,364; (ii) Rs 249; (iii) Rs 1,759.

   
 

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