Zaheer makes India’s day
I am not here on holiday: John Reid
Andy yorker best ball of my career: Zaheer
South Point top group
India to host U-19 meet
Big 2 sponsors renew support
Firoz up at second spot
Bangalore Racing/ Joe The Pro may lift trophy
Calcutta Racing/ 8 for Saturday’s RCTC Million
Mumbai Racing/ Texas King posts upset win

Nagpur, Feb. 21: 

After losing yet another toss he would have been delighted to win, Sourav Ganguly listed India’s priority on Day I of the first Test: The need for his bowlers, on a featherbed, to give nothing away.

Well, they gave little away. Of course, they could have done still better. Equally, when on 118 for one, Zimbabwe could have roared into a position of absolute dominance. So, at stumps at the VCA ground, full marks to India.

With the wicket heavily in favour of batsmen, it was essential the Indians be patient. Also, that the role assigned to each be faithfully executed. Nobody disappointed, with even Sanjay Bangar having an outstanding first spell (7-3-11-0).

Harbhajan Singh did go wicketless, but his effort wasn’t any less significant than the fellow-bowlers. He extracted teasing bounce and, sooner rather than later, will prove more than a handful for Zimbabwe. Actually, a bit more agility close-in and Harbhajan wouldn’t have gone unrewarded.

The second new ball (taken at 227 for seven) is just five overs old and with the early-morning moisture bound to help Jawagal Srinath and the superb Zaheer Khan (three for 45), it won’t be unrealistic to hope for an early closure to the Zimbabwe innings on the second day.

Zaheer, playing his first Test in over three months — last appearance in Bloemfontein — was the pick of the bowlers. And, the sizzling inswinging yorker which uprooted dangerman Andy Flower’s leg stump will be ranked as the delivery of the season. It’s a pity no more than a couple of thousand spectators watched this beauty.

Later, speaking exclusively, Zaheer himself picked the yorker as the top ball of his international career. Even for a batsman of Andy’s stature, getting that so soon in the innings came as a shock. Indeed, it reminded one of Shoaib Akhtar’s terrifying yorkers three years ago.

“We’ve had a very good day... I think the bowlers were simply great, responding to the situation like professionals,” Sourav told The Telegraph. Though he lost the toss, the lead-up had been ‘satisfying’ — he was, after all, able to convince the selectors on fielding V.V.S. Laxman. Sourav, then, won’t forget the day in a hurry.

Stuart Carlisle, however, isn’t likely to sleep well. Not only did the Zimbabwe captain see his team crash from an enviable perch, he himself contributed by featuring in a horrible mix-up with Grant Flower.

Carlisle’s run out for a career-best 77 (267 minutes, 204 deliveries, 10x4, 1x6) was a double blow: A century which was there for the asking was blown away and, of course, that dismissal (175 for five) hastened Zimbabwe’s slide.

The Zimbabwe innings was largely built around the 106-run Carlisle-Alistair Campbell partnership for the second wicket. In fact Campbell, returning after being disciplined by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, has to be saddled with much blame for a slide-triggering loose drive on 57 (142 minutes, 98 balls, 9x4).

Down the order, vice-captain Heath Streak (24) and plucky Travis Friend (33 batting) ensured the innings would have some respectability. Streak, in particular, was in dashing form till he flicked the very first delivery of the second new ball right into Shiv Sundar Das’ hands.

Keeping Friend company, at stumps, was Raymond Price. Struck on the chest by an unintended beamer from a fired-up Zaheer, on delivery No. 1 itself, the newcomer showed character in surviving 21 minutes.

If a session-by-session assessment is undertaken, the first belonged entirely to Zimbabwe. Yes, they didn’t score very many (60 in 28 overs), but only lost Trevor Gripper, taken well by Deep Dasgupta off Zaheer. Clearly, there’s no place for a tentative push in the first hour of any Test anywhere.

The next two sessions, though, were India’s.

In the afternoon, Campbell and Andy (who amassed 540 runs during the last series in India) were followed by Gavin Rennie, surprised by a brute of a bouncer from the wily Srinath. It only reinforced, yet again, that the bouncer has its advantages even on placid tracks.

Carlisle was the next to go, thanks to Shiv Sundar’s sharpness and Harbhajan’s presence of mind in positioning himself perfectly. Grant’s was wicket No.6. However, TV replays suggested Anil Kumble may have been a trifle lucky.

Young Tatenda Taibu, Zimbabwe’s U-19 skipper, departed after Grant. This time, though, there was absolutely no doubt as Kumble’s menacing top-spinner left Taibu flummoxed. The youngster has played a few Tests but, this afternoon, he would have learnt never to make the mistake of going back when he should be stepping forward.

Streak was last out.

Incidentally, Sourav’s captaincy was spot-on. He was clear about the role each bowler would play and never let go an opportunity to attack. The pressure element did contribute to Zimbabwe’s disappointing show.


Nagpur, Feb. 21: 
Former New Zealand and Rest of World captain John Reid is a Match Referee with a difference. Unlike others who merely brief the captains, coaches and managers before each series, the one-time allrounder actually presents a written (policy) statement to the captains.

Reid, who is on duty in the India-Zimbabwe series which began today, again did so last evening. The crystal-clear statement, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, reads:


My recent ICC Referee appointments have highlighted various consistent breaches of the ICC Code of Conduct, which have needed action by the Referee — some have been minor, some major.

To avoid the suggestion of inconsistency with my interpretation and application of the Code, I have set out breaches which I do not want repeated in this series:

Gesturing to a dismissed batsman.

Excessive appealing or charging at an Umpire for a decision.

Using advertising/sponsors products on arm-guards, wristlets, headbands etc.

Excessive anything — bad language, intimidation or abuse and, of course, sledging.

I have, on other occasions, said that I understand a few words in the heat of the moment, but it must not be prolonged. Remember, out in the middle, you are on trial by television with eight-plus cameras watching.

The list of past breaches is a long one, which I do not want added to in this series.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the fines-system, for enforcing the Code, is not having the desired effect in discouraging transgressions. So, the sterner measures (suspension) as set out in the Code will have to be considered.

I expect the respective captains to control their players on the field and to immediately act or react when an Umpire asks for assistance to control a situation.

The Umpires are in control of this game of cricket, but if the Umpires or captains cannot control the players, please remember that Referees are in place with authority and muscle within the ICC Code to act decisively and penalise any act which brings the game into disrepute.

The Referee is not here on holiday, he has a job to do. It is spelt out in the ICC’s little book. You have a copy and I expect players of all sides to have been made aware of what the Code of Conduct is all about.

This series will be watched by millions of cricket followers and you are held as role models for youngsters. I would like to think you will not let them down.

Best wishes for a good series.


Nagpur, Feb.21: 
After a cooling-down session at the VCA ground itself and a quick shower back at the team hotel, it was time for quick Zaheer Khan to receive congratulatory calls over that deadly inswinging yorker which got Andy Flower.

“Yes, I would pick it as the No.1 ball of my career,” Zaheer, who made his India debut in Nairobi 17 months ago, told The Telegraph. He added: “Till today, though, my best had been the one just short of length which dismissed Alistair Campbell during the Jodhpur ODI on Zimbabwe’s last tour...”

[For the record, Campbell, who opened the innings, was caught by the then wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya for 24.]

Having just come off a ten-wicket haul (for Baroda) in the Ranji semis against Punjab, Zaheer is in peak form. Grinning, he remarked: “Look, it’s all got to do with rhythm... At the moment, it is as it should be.”

Asked just what had made the difference, specially as he was so rusty in the solitary Test (Bloemfontein) he played in South Africa, Zaheer replied: “Hours and hours of bowling at nets.”

Surely, there’s a lesson in this for all bowlers.


Calcutta, Feb. 21: 
South Point today beat Don Bosco by five wickets to emerge group champions in the CAB under-19 inter-school meet at the Rajdanga ground.

The main architects behind the wrecking of Don Bosco — they folded up for 100 in 26 overs — were Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, who took four for eight, and Dipanjan Mustafi, who took three for 22. South Point hit up the required runs (104 for five) in 16 overs.

Brief scores: Don Bosco (PC) 100 in 26 ovs (S Roy Chowdhury 4/8, Dipanjan Mustafi 3/22). South Point 104/5 in 16 ovs (S Ghosh 28).

Coaching camp meet

Lake Friends, Sarsuna Sporting Union, Chetla Agrani and Sambaran Banerjee CCA won their respective Milo U-19 inter-coaching camp meet matches today.

Lake Friends beat Dakshin Kalikata Sansad by 14 runs, Sarsuna beat Milan Samity by eight wickets, Chetla beat Baghajatin Tarun Sangha by 32 runs and Sambaran Banerjee beat Rabindra Athletic Club by 61 runs.


At Rajdanga — Lake Friends 209/4 (Punit Rawat 90 n.o.) bt Dakshin Kalikata Sansad 195/5 (Dipankar Kabiraj 96 n.o.). by 14 runs. Milan Samity 126/8 (Debjit Chowdhury 39) lost to Sarsuna Sporting Union 130/2 (Anindya Das 62 n.o.; Santanu Das 3/22) by 8 wickets.

At Baghajatin Tarun Sangha ground — Chetla Agrani CCC 205/9 (Deep Chatterjee 93; Dipayan Bhattacharya 5/33) bt Tarun Sangha 173 (Subhas Mitra 37; Subhas Mondal 4/29) by 32 runs. Sambaran Banerjee CCA 210/6 (Sujoy Mukherjee 81 n.o.; Abhisekh Tiwari 3/41) bt Rabindra Athletic Club 149 (A.K. Chowbey 39) by 61 runs.

Title for Union Bank

Union Bank today clinched the 12th Eastern Regional Bank football meet title at the Durgapur Nehru Stadium. In the final they beat Allahabad Bank 2-0.

Gouranga Dutta and Dulal Patra scored. Patra emerged top scorer with five goals including a hattrick. Soumen Mondol (UB) was declared the Man of the Match and Rajeev Ahmed (UB) the Man of the Tournament. Former international Goutam Sarkar was the seniormost player of the tournament.


New Delhi, Feb. 21: 
India will host the inaugural Asian under-19 women’s football championships in Goa from April 19-28.

Eleven teams will take part with North Korea, China and Japan the top seeds in their respective groups. The team finishing at the top from each group will progress to the semi-finals.

The best second-placed team will also qualify for the semi-finals. India’s chances of making the last four stage look slim, being placed in a tough group with Japan, Guam and South Korea.

The champions and runners up will qualify for the under-19 women’s World Cup in Canada from August 17 to September 2.

THE GROUPINGS — Group A: Japan, Guam, South Korea and India. Group B: China, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong. Group C: North Korea, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

INDIA’S SCHEDULE — April 19: vs South Korea at Nehru stadium, Margao. April 21: vs Guam at Nehru stadium, Margao. April 23: vs Japan at Nehru stadium, Margao.

NFL telecast schedule

AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco today released the NFL telecast schedule. According to the list, Doordarshan will telecast — either live or deferred — another 21 matches, ten of which are in Calcutta.

The second-leg clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on March 11 will be shown deferred live from 7 pm.

Matches in Calcutta to be telecast live are as follows: Mohun Bagan vs HAL on March 5, Mohun Bagan vs ITI on March 15, Mohun Bagan vs Mahindra United on April 1, Tollygunge Agragami vs Mohun Bagan on April 3 and East Bengal vs Salgaocar on April 15. All matches will be shown from 2.30 pm on DD Sports.

Meanwhile, Strata Sports have procured two co-sponsors for the National Football League this year — LG and Pepsi.


Calcutta, Feb. 21: 
Despite the indifferent performance of the Calcutta giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal so far this season, the UB Group, sponsors of the two soccer teams, have decided to continue their commitment to the clubs for another season.

A release from the UB Group, issued today, says that a budget meeting between the board members of McDowell Mohun Bagan (though that nomenclature is never used) and Kingfisher East Bengal in Bangalore today unanimously agreed that the UB Group, through its two brands, will continue their support “in usual fashion.”

The meeting also featured the contentious issue of approaching the IFA for an appropriate share of revenue from the telecasting rights for the Super Division League and IFA Shield. The clubs have been hammering on this aspect for some time, claiming that this was their right.

’No racist slur’

Meanwhile, East Bengal officials today pooh-poohed allegations levelled by Tollygunge Agragami officials that Omolaja Olalekan and Suley Musah had indulged in racial abuse against a Tollygunge player in yesterday’s National League match which East Bengal won.

“In fact it was they who were giving off rather untoward signals,” said the official, “and there was no way that our players were involved,” said the official. Hence there is no question of an inquiry into this affair.


Calcutta, Feb. 21: 
Firoz Ali’s second round two-under 70 placed him second at the half-way stage of the Padampat Singhania Open in Noida today.

Amit Dube returned a four-under 68 for a one-stroke lead with six-under 138, according to information reaching here. Overnight leader Amritinder Singh slipped to third at four-under 140 while Sanjay Kumar was fourth at 141.


Bangalore, Feb. 21: 
On his consistency, the one who looks best to lift the

1,200m Nagarahole Cup, tomorrow’s main attraction, is the Z. Darashah-ward Joe The Pro with K. P. Appu in the saddle.


2.30 pm: Steinlen 1. Florale 2. Ithica 3.
3 pm: Alto 1. Nesara 2. Sprite 3.
3.30 pm: Persian Goddess 1. Crystal Ocean 2. Brave Russian 3.
4 pm: Joe The Pro 1. Pride Estates 2. Winelight 3.
4.30 pm: King’s Pride 1. Altosax 2. Star Alone 3.
5 pm: Pretty Move 1. Odeon 2. Win Ameen 3.
5.30 pm: Special Request 1. Silk Petals 2. Scarlet Runner 3.

Day’s Best: Steinlen

Double: Joe The Pro & King’s Pride

Calcutta, Feb. 21: 
There are eight horses in the running for the Saturday’s juvenile Derby, the 1,600m RCTC Million. First race at 12.55 pm.


1. Golden Can Handicap1,100m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 12.55 pm: April Ace 61; Bay Dragon 60; Aklovic 59; Val Rouge 58; Tsaynen Blue 57.5; Floral Path 57; Lady Shirley 57.

2. Birthday Book Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 1.30 pm: Altiama 61; Gra-Lemor 60; Winning Hand 55.5; Affliction 54.5; Ardon 54.5; Revolution 54.5; Auctioneer 51; Lively Project 50; Carbon Copy 49.5; Schumacher 49.5.

3. Supernova Cup 1,600m (Cl III; Cl IV eligible Rt. 22-72) 2.10 pm: Peace Envoy 60; Pretty Boy Floyd 60; Regal Rocket 59; Si Senora 59; Mr. Bombshell 55; Charlene 54; Giorgio 54; Flamebird 53.5; Tajik 53; Aiberni 51.5; At My Command 49.

4. H. H. Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur of Cooch Behar Memorial Cup 1,200m (Cl I, Rt. 88 over) 2.40 pm: Ancheta 60; Anolini 60; Acute 59; Secret Blessing’s 52.5; Amusing 51.5; Comedy of Errors 50.5; Ballet Master 50.

5. RCTC Million 1,600m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 3.20 pm: Afflutter 56; Saladin 56; Secret Way 56; Smart Ruler 56; Anatolia 54.5; Assertive Dancer 54.5; Romantic Notes 54.5; Star Selection 54.5.

6. Veritas Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over Rt. 22-50) 3.55 pm: Brave Venture 60; Midnight Escape 60; Simply Monarch 60; Adeline 59.5; New Fortune 59.5; Red Trident 59.5; Storm Centre 59.5; Glass Slipper 57; Royal Philosopher 55.5; Constantine 55; Simply Dashing 55; Global Harmony 53; Iron Warrior 49.5.

7. Turf Hawk Handicap 1,400m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 4.30 pm: Bul Bul 60.5; Azurica 59.5; Leading Conquest 59.5; Classic Pursuit 58.5; Midas Touch 56.5; Crowned Prince 56; Asprey 55.5; Alborada 54.5; Impressive Prince 54; Abandoned 51.5; Lucifer 51.5; Royal Ruler 51; Dictate 49.

Jackpot: 3; 4; 5; 6 & 7.

Treble: (i) 2; 3 & 4; (ii) 5; 6 & 7.

Today’s track trials

Outer sand track

1,400m: Madame X (Upadhya) in 1-54; (400m) 31s. Thunder Struck (V. Jaiswal) in 1-52s; (400m) 31s. Fit.

1,200m: Adducer (C. Alford) and Musician (Rabani) in 1-29s; (400m) 29s. They were level.

1,000m: Arrayal (C. Alford) and Adorer (Rabani) in 1-10s; (400m) 27s. Former was 4 ls better.

800m: Gold Buck (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Pretty Boy Floyd (Engineer) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Software Classic (Brij S.) and Carbon Steel (K. Kumar) in 58s; (400m) 30s. Level.

600m: Giorgio (Upadhya) in 47s; (400m) 31s. Heaven’s Blessing (G. Singh) in 44s; (400m) 29s.

Sand track

800m: Global Harmony (Gajender) in 52s; (400m) 26s. Moved well. Gallant Romeo (Rb) in 58s; (400m) 31s.


Mumbai, Feb. 21: 
Texas King, a long-shot from S. S. Shah’s yard, won the Rocklie Trophy in Mumbai on Thursday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. A. Geddis Plate 1,600m: (6-1-4) Sunchyme (Rajendra) 1; Mambo King 2; Epic Queen 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/2; (1-42.4). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 11; 21; 36; Quinella: 61; Tanala: 554. Fav: Sunchyme (6).

2. Noble Fella Plate 1,600m: (6-5-1) Northern Frontier (Chauhan) 1; Quick Decision 2; Aide de Memoire 3. Won by: Hd; 2-1/4; (1-42.1). Tote: Win Rs 133; Place: 28; 14; 15; Quinella: 140; Tanala: 1,207. Fav: Quick Decision (5).

3. Rocklie Trophy 1,400m: (3-4-2) Texas King (J. Chinoy) 1; Auchinblae 2; Criollo 3. Won by: 3/4; 1/2; (1-27.). Tote: Win Rs 87; Place: 25; 14; 19; Quinella: 130; Tanala: 1,519. Fav: Auchinblae (4).

4. Step By Step Plate 1,000m: (1-6-4) Mein Kampf (J. Chinoy) 1; Accademia 2; Portentous 3. Won by: 1; 1/2; (1-0.8). Tote: Win Rs 127; Place: 32; 13; 20; Quinella: 176; Tanala: 1,944. Fav: Accademia (6).

5. Twinkle Toes Plate 1,200m: (1-5-3) Akiydath (McCullagh) 1; Courageous 2; King’s Crest 3. Won by: 3/4; 4-3/4; (1-15.2). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 11; 44; 23; Quinella: 262; Tanala: 3,389. Fav: Akiydath (1).

6. S. A. Wahid Plate 1,000m: (9-1-4) Happiness (Sunil) 1; Rhythm Divine 2; Code Red 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 1-1/2; (1-1.9). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 16; 27; 44; Quinella: 121; Tanala: 1,971. Fav: Happiness (9).

Jackpot: Rs 34,323; (C) Rs 6,057.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,763; (ii) Rs 1,127.

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