Zimbabwe cornered after Bangar blast
I think it was my day: Bangar
Campbell: Andy is a phenomenon
India opt for same squad
Easy for NSI
Indian duo out
Mumbai Multi-Million/ Priceless romps home
Track trials

Nagpur, Feb. 24: 
ZIMBABWE 287 & 152/4
INDIA 570/7 dec.

With light rain briefly descending on the VCA ground moments after stumps on Day IV, there was a scramble for the Met Office number. Yet, amidst this ‘confusion’, Stuart Carlisle presented a brave front.

“Are we really looking to the weather God to save us? No... That’s not how cricket should be played. It’s going to be tough but, tomorrow, we will take it session-by-session. The game isn’t over,” the Zimbabwe captain remarked.

Even though the odds are stacked against Zimbabwe, this self-belief is commendable. Only, an overnight upswing in faith won’t also save the visitors in the first Test. And, Carlisle’s refreshing thoughts notwithstanding, rain alone can ensure a lucky draw.

Sourav Ganguly, for his part, isn’t much concerned about the weather. For the record, the forecast speaks of tomorrow being “cloudy” with “chance” of rain in the evening. Well...

“I’m not predicting by when the Test should end, yet I’m confident we will win big. We’ve dominated this match and, frankly, I see no reason why we shouldn’t finish it off in style,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

In arrears by 283, Zimbabwe have already lost their top four batsmen and even if they avoid an innings defeat, the loss should still be big enough to significantly dent morale. Of course, the bottomline could have been a little different had Carlisle not been at the centre of a questionable leg-before decision by Srinivas Venkatraghavan.

Anil Kumble, getting the ball to turn and jump, has again been among the wickets in a big way (three for 47) but the cynosure, clearly, was Sanjay Bangar. The Railways allrounder smashed a breathtaking unbeaten 100 (182 minutes, 155 balls, 12x4, 2x6), an innings which upstaged Sachin Tendulkar (176 in 441 minutes, 316 deliveries, 23x4).

Playing just his second Test, Bangar dedicated the maiden hundred to his late mother, Sindhu. “Till her death two years ago, owing to lung cancer, she was my biggest supporter. Today, then, she would have been more happy than anybody else...” Bangar probably didn’t wish to get emotional, but couldn’t avoid becoming so.

While the Mumbai-based Bangar is a Senior Welfare Officer with Western Railway, the welfare of Zimbabwe’s bowlers was the last thing on his mind. Everybody was expecting Sachin (resuming at the overnight 137) to explode, yet it’s Bangar (overnight on 22) who murdered Zimbabwe. Indeed, in the first hour which realised 100 runs, Bangar alone contributed 63 (from a mere 50 balls).

Bangar, in fact, was clinical in his execution and there wasn’t anything ungainly about the shots. So impressed was Sachin himself, at the other end, that he applauded the newcomer more than once. It’s a gesture, which didn’t go unnoticed and will always be fondly recalled by Bangar.

Carlisle took the third new ‘cherry’ first thing in the morning (India 437 for five), little realising it would help India quickly achieve their intended (though undisclosed) target of 100 runs in 20 overs. With Bangar blazing, the ‘target’ was achieved in just 14!

As Bangar was then on 85 and Sachin, too, in sight of his third double hundred, Sourav put the declaration on hold. As it turned out, Sachin left at the start of the second hour, playing for the team, instead of looking to post what would largely have been a personal milestone.

By Sachin’s departure, Bangar had reached 90 and, following a dressing room advisory which cautioned against attempting anything foolish, took time in getting to three-figures. The declaration came with the hundred — reached via an overthrow, which allowed a couple off Brighton Watambwa.

Earlier, after Raymond Price had sent back Sachin (who, playing inside-out, failed to clear Andy Flower), Watambwa dismissed Zaheer Khan. Kumble remained unbeaten and, like Sachin, had been a source of encouragement for Bangar.

Zimbabwe obviously erred in targeting Sachin, and trying to restrict him only. This allowed Bangar some freedom and absolutely no one could have made more of the opportunity. Irrespective of the quality of Zimbabwe’s attack, it’s great for Indian cricket that a No. 7 can clobber an effortless hundred — the third, by the way, of the innings.

Bangar’s first fifty came in 128 minutes and off 118 deliveries (8x4). The next was blasted in 54 minutes and off 37 balls. Besides four more boundaries, Bangar fired two sixes: Over long-on off Grant Flower and over long-off at Price’s expense. Incidentally, Price returned a five-wicket haul for the second time in his short (seven Tests) career.

With all the attention on Bangar’s own achievement, one quite forgot that Sachin and he collaborated a VCA ground record 171 for the sixth-wicket.

As the declaration was effected 24 minutes before lunch, Zimbabwe’s first task was to survive the four overs till the break. They did, even reaching 20, thanks to Sourav’s aggressive field.

Soon after resumption, Carlisle was given out and it was left to the determined Trevor Gripper (52 not out in 261 minutes, 184 deliveries, 5x4) and the experienced Alistair Campbell to stitch a recovery. Campbell wasn’t very comfortable to begin with, but was looking good when he got out to what became the last ball before tea (80 for two).

The final session found Zimbabwe’s No. 1 hope, Andy, make a quick exit — even failing to capitalise on a Deep Dasgupta let-off. Kumble, who kept varying his line and used the crease to tease the batsmen, added Gavin Rennie’s wicket as well.

Keeping Gripper company at stumps was Price, lucky to have seen the ‘cherry’ go between Deep’s legs (off Kumble) even before he had opened account. Gripper, though, should consider himself fortunate: On 39 (Zimbabwe 113/3), he was comprehensively beaten by Harbhajan Singh, but the ball struck the middle-stump without dislodging the bails.

Poor Harbhajan is still waiting for his first wicket of the Test. Given Kumble’s mood, he better get it fast or else, no batsman may remain to be scalped. The Indians, however, will have to hold whatever is offered. Butterfingers can only help Zimbabwe’s cause.

Shiv Sundar better

Shiv Sundar Das, who was down with a stomach upset in the afternoon, was better by the evening and should take the field tomorrow.


Nagpur, Feb. 24: 
Sanjay Bangar’s affair with cricket has been quite fascinating. At the Under-15 level, he played for Maharashtra. When it came to the U-19s, it was for Mumbai. Then, in 1993-94, he joined Railways. Last December, of course, Bangar made his (injury-marred) Test debut.

All that, though, is history. What will be talked about, for now, is the 29-year-old’s scintillating maiden Test hundred (100 not out). Today, the VCA ground saw a quiet but fiercely determined cricketer finally ‘explode’.

“Well, yes, it’s a wonderful feeling... I think it was my day and things just worked out fine,” the unassuming Bangar remarked while interacting with the Media after stumps this evening.

Asked whether he wished to dedicate this effort to anybody, Bangar mentioned his late mother, Sindhu. Just as quickly, he added: “It’s also a day to think of my father (Bapu), wife Kashmira and son Aryan... My elder sister (Sunita) and younger brother (Santosh), too...”

Given that till last evening, every batsman would ‘complain’ about the slowness of the wicket (as also the lack of bounce), how did he make batting look so easy — and in Sachin Tendulkar’s presence?

Bangar didn’t take the diplomatic route, but gave a straight answer: “I think the state of mind counts... There’s a difference when you are looking to survive and when you are aiming to quickly score...”

Was he himself nervous in the Nineties?

“Fortunately, no... I wasn’t hit by nerves and what helped is that I’ve played first-class cricket for eight-nine years... Then, I’ve recently been in good touch. I must, of course, add I’m thankful to the team management for allowing me to get to the hundred,” Bangar responded.

Expectedly, Bangar thanked Sachin for “constant encouragement.” Specifically, the maestro guided the innings’ third centurion on “where to stand and where to find gaps.” And, when somebody sought a comment on that power-packed Sachin drive striking him around the heart, Bangar quipped: “It came like a bullet... Came as a wake-up call.”

Later, talking to The Telegraph, Bangar revealed he has “always” been a Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Wasim Akram admirer. Also, when he does manage time, he heads for the nearest movie theatre. Amitabh Bachchan remains Bangar’s hero No. 1. As for the heroines, he had this to say, smiling: “The list of those to be admired is long...”

Now, Bangar’s own band of fans should swell.


Nagpur, Feb. 24: 
In an era when most cricketers either look up to Steve Waugh or Sachin Tendulkar, Alistair Campbell regards teammate Andy Flower as his role model. It’s a refreshingly different choice and won’t spark a debate.

Both, incidentally, are former Zimbabwe captains and figured in the country’s very first Test XI (against India, in late 1992).

“I don’t have to look far for my role model... In fact, he’s in the very next room... From nowhere to the world’s No. 1 in less than ten years... Andy’s achievements have been exceptional and I do regard him a phenomenon,” Campbell, speaking with emotion and pride, told The Telegraph.

Interacting briefly at the team’s hotel (Pride), Campbell added: “Indeed, Andy’s achievements should be judged keeping in mind the circumstances... Everything he has gone through playing in a losing side must be appreciated... Whatever the odds, his dedication hasn’t ever dipped and his work-ethic remains remarkable.”

According to Campbell, people keep talking of two legendary left-handers, Graeme Pollock and David Gower, but he can’t exactly relate to them on a personal level.

“Pollock and Gower are obviously greats but, then, I don’t know how they made it big. On the other hand, I’ve seen Andy’s rise step-by-step. I know what he has himself gone through and what he has himself put in...”

Significantly, Andy was adjudged Player of the Year in 2001 after a poll conducted by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Sachin Tendulkar and five others were also nominated for the award.

Smiling, Campbell acknowledged he would himself have fared far better had he been “as dedicated” as Andy. “There’s much to learn... Even the way he handles himself off the field, his family life... Andy is so positive and, despite being so focussed, finds time to have a round of beer with teammates... Clearly, for me, he is the complete role model,” Campbell, who has made a comeback after being disciplined for allegedly “racist” remarks, signed off.

Purely statistically, Campbell and Andy began the on-going Test series with 2,612 (56 appearances) and 4,560 (59 matches) runs, respectively. In ODIs, Campbell has totalled 4,795 (172 appearances), while Andy has posted 5797 runs (191 matches).


Nagpur, Feb. 24: 
With the conference hall within the VCA ground — venue of this evening’s selection committee meeting — firmly bolted for well over an hour, there was speculation that all the time was being spent deliberating on Deep Dasgupta’s future.

As it turned out, the selectors retained the XIV for the second (and final) Test in New Delhi, though there was “some discussion” over Deep. Sources of The Telegraph, however, maintained Deep “didn’t” actually come close to being dropped.

One understands the selectors, briefly, also focussed on the composition of the Indian squad for the five ODIs against Zimbabwe, straight after this Test series.

THE SQUAD: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Shiv Sundar Das, Deep Dasgupta, Rahul Dravid, Vangipurappu Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Tinu Yohannan, Sanjay Bangar and Sarandeep Singh.


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
Biswanath Bose and Aranyadeb Sarkar hit centuries to help Netaji Subhas Institute (NSI) beat Burnpur United by seven wickets in the CAB league today. Town and Young Bengal also posted wins.


Burnpur 280. NSI 283/3 (Biswnath Bose 116, Aranyadeb Sarkar 117 n.o.). NSI won by 7 wkts.

Kumartuli 310. Town 311/3 (Sudip Mitra 114, Rajesh Hela 111 n.o.). Town won by 7 wkts.

Anandabazar Patrika SC 226. Young Bengal 227/7 (Sudip Mitra 50, Priyankar Mukherjee 51 n.o.; Rakesh Kumar 4/56). Young Bengal won by 3 wkts.

Orissa in last 8

Orissa beat Tamil Nadu 2-0 to enter the quarters of the national women’s football meet today. Kalpana Sahoo and Shrabhanjali Samantray scored in the group A match at SAI. In Malda, Chandigarh beat Rajasthan 4-0.


Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi lost 6-7 (4-7), 4-6 to Andy Roddick and Jan-Michael Gambill in the quarters of the Memphis ATP meet, according to information received here.


Mumbai, Feb. 24: 
Trained by Ganapathy and ridden by B. Prakash, the Placerville-Queen To Conquer filly Priceless romped home with the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million in Mumbai on Sunday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Her Excellency Plate 2,000m: (1-7-10) Don Alejandro (McCullagh) 1; Acacia Blossom 2; White Lie 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 3-1/4; (2-7.7). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 12; 59; 17; Quienlla: 328; Tanala: 1,197. Fav: Don Alejandro (1).

2. Serum International Ltd., Trophy 2,400m: (3-2-1) Radical Force (Kamlesh) 1; Allianz 2; Avantage 3. Won by: Dist; Dist; (2-32.6). Tote: Win Rs 12; Quinella: 23. Fav: Radical Force (3).

3. Bangalore Turf Club Ltd. Trophy 1,200m: (3-1-2) Rambus (McCullagh) 1; Green Paradise 2; Daring Don 3. Won by: 9; 1-1/4; (1-11). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 12; 58; Quinella: 196; Tanala: 963. Fav: Affability (4).

4. Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy 1,000m: (2-1-9) River Rainbow (Prakash) 1; Mandalay Bay 2; Race The Moon 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-1.2). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 13; 13; 62; Quinella: 22; Tanala: 638. Fav: River Rainbow (2).

5. Rusi Patel Trophy 1,600m: (6-9-4) Dancing Eve (Rajendra) 1; Singita 2; The Avenger 3. Won by: 1/2; Nk; (1-39.4). Tote: Win Rs 195; Place: 35; 14; 19; Quinella: 135; Tanala: 2,454. Fav: Singita (9).

6. Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million 1,400m: (14-12-7) Priceless (Prakash) 1; Free Radical 2; Rosmini 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 3/4; (1-24.7). Tote: Win Rs 58; Place: 23; 20; 28; Quinella: 91; Tanala: 1,108. Fav: Free Radical (12).

7. Gris Cheval Trophy 1,400m: (11-1-7) Lek (J. Chinoy) 1; Over The Ocean 2; Fantasy Star 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 1-3/4; (1-25.9). Tote: Win Rs 60; Place: 20; 41; 15; Quinella: 358; Tanala: 2,049. Fav: Fantasy Star (7).

8. Jasdanwalla Trophy 1,600m: (5-7-3) True Thriller (McCullagh) 1; Zeta Jones 2; Al Humair 3. Won by: SH; 2; (1-37.3). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 17; 27; 13; Quinella: 164; Tanala: 712. Fav: Al Humair (3).

9. Six Speed Plate 1,200m: (9-11-1) Danger Zone (Shroff) 1; Las Mareas 2; Snow Star 3. Not run: Handsome Lad (8). Won by: 1; 5; (1-13.5). Tote: Win Rs 27; Place: 13; 16; 20; Quinella: 34; Tanala: 191. Fav: Danger Zone (9).

Jackpot: Rs 1,13,009; (C) Rs 10,936.

Treble: (i) Rs 114; (ii) Rs 3,109; (iii) Rs 593.

Calcutta, Feb. 24: 
Andrada and Angeles were impressive when the following track work was noted today:

Sand track

800m: Excellent Striker (R. Ahmed) and Immaculate (B. Gurang) in 56s; (400m) 29s. They were level. Andrada (Domingo) and Angeles (C. Alford) in 52s; (400m) 25s. They were level. Discomatic (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Sergeant Slipper (A. P. Singh) and Bold Apparel (Upadhya) in 54s; (400m) 26s. They finished level.

600m: Crimson King (Salam) in 45s; (400m) 28s. Flinders (Upadhya) in 46s; (400m) 30s.

On Saturday, outer sand track

1,800m: Set Aside (Gowli) in 2-15s; (400m) 30s. Moved well.

1,400m: Touch of Elegance (Brij S.) in 1-50s; (400m) 28s. Yukon (Upadhya) in 1-39s; (400m) 29s. Good.

1,200m: Jungle Cat (Upadhya) in 1-25s; (400m) 28s. Was pushed.

1,000m: Declarationoflove (Rutherford) in 1-12s; (400m) 26s. Note. Among Men (Gowli) and No Regrets (E. Smith) in 1-9s; (400m) 27s. Former was far better.

800m: Carbon Steel (Rutherford) and Kargil Soldier (K. Kumar) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Level. Zuhaak (E. Smith) in 58s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Rheinheart (G. Singh) and Jeypore (Shanker) in 56s; (400m) 29s. They were level, later was fully extended.

Sand track

800m: Harry The Horse (Rutherford) in 49s; (400m) 23s. Was handy.    


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