‘Captain’s attitude counts’
West Zone sniff title
Chandra, Advani make quarters
Customs rout CLW
Kambli trip raises eyebrows
Wari win

Calcutta, April 10: 
Exactly 19 years ago, Kapil Dev, then a bindaas 24, was in the midst of his first series as captain — in the West Indies.

Looking back, Kapil is honest enough to admit he “wasn’t prepared” for the top job. In India, after all, the ‘seat’ truly is hot. As it turned out, his first innings as captain lasted just over a year.

“Talking from experience, they (the selectors) shouldn’t send such a young captain to the West Indies — that, too, on his maiden assignment,” Kapil told The Telegraph, during his visit to the city on Monday-Tuesday.

[Incidentally, that squad had two former Test captains in Srinivas Venkatraghavan and Sunil Gavaskar and two would-be captains — Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri. Then, there was senior pro Mohinder Amarnath, whose India debut was back in 1969-70.]

But, surely, the tour must still have been an education?

“It was, yes… Definitely was an occasion to learn… From a captain’s point of view, what helped is that expectations weren’t high. The level (of expectations) does make a difference. Indeed, even a small plus can be a big gain.”

While India lost 0-2 in the five-Test series and 1-2 in the ODIs, that limited overs victory in Berbice marked the start of India’s emergence as a team to contend with in ODIs. In fact, less than three months later, the World Cup was India’s.

“That win (by 27 runs) injected lots of confidence… Never before had we beaten the reigning (two-time) world champions… Also, at that point in time, no team had scored as many runs as we did (282 for five in 47 overs) in that game,” Kapil reminisced, about the only time with some emotion.

As for the series beginning tomorrow, at the Bourda Oval in Georgetown, the expectations from Sourav Ganguly’s team are already sky-high. It is to be seen, though, how the Kapil-formula works.

The former captain (and coach) himself preferred not to speak about what is in store over the next eight weeks. “I hope we win, bas…” was all he said. Obviously, very much in keeping with the almost-wholly-off-cricket approach, which took shape when he quit as coach 19 months ago.

Going back to the 1982-83 series, Kapil gave a simple answer when asked just how tough it was for him as captain: “It’s easy when the team is winning, tough when it isn’t. Performance influences everything — bottomline included…”

Having first played for India when the present captain was only six years old, did he have advice of any kind for Sourav?

“Not really… The captain must look to getting the best out of his players… It becomes easier when the players actually feel they are part of one team. Any captain’s priority, then, must be to bring them together. More so, an Indian captain, as he has to interact with players from different regions who are probably comfortable speaking their own language…”

Who, then, qualifies as a good captain?

“Somebody who gets everybody together… Somebody who can get the best out of the available resources… A captain must be like an elder brother, accessible yet somewhat feared… Also, a batsman-captain, for example, should behave the same when he gets a hundred as opposed to getting a duck. It’s all about attitude.”

Significantly, Kapil declined to rate Sourav on a scale of 10. Having only just initiated a debate on the current players’ commitment, he was brief: “The captain needs to work hard… In any case, nothing comes easy...”

Sourav has completed two years as full-time captain. Of course his biggest test, perhaps, begins tomorrow.


Calcutta, April 10: 
West Zone have ensured they won’t lose this match and with it the Duleep Trophy. The squall that hit the city this evening helped their cause even further, ruling out any remote chance of East winning the match outright in the two remaining days.

The 320-run record stand for the second wicket between Nilesh Modi and Hrishikesh Kanitkar (197 off 301 balls, 24x4, 2x6) gave West the platform from where they can only dictate.

The pair erased the tournament’s previous best mark of 288 between Aunshuman Gaekwad and Sanjay Manjrekar for West versus Central (Nagpur, 1987-88).

The West skipper may have missed out on his second consecutive double century but he sent a message to the national selectors in no uncertain terms.

Modi (118 off 372 balls, 13x4) was content with playing second fiddle, but the way he stuck to his task in unfriendly conditions should serve as an inspiration to many others. Sitanshu Kotak (50) and Kaushik Aphale (50) joined in the run feast on the second day at Eden and East were made to wait and watch.

In effect, it was East’s poor fielding that led to their doom. On a wicket where the ball was jumping and turning appreciably on the opening day itself, the fielders just let go the opportunity.

Crucial chances were let off yesterday and there was no sign of any improvement today. Very little effort was put in too.

Rashmi Ranjan Parida at forward short-leg has so far dropped at least six chances. Yet, he was not shifted from that position. His anticipation has been poor and the concentration required for such a specialist position has been missing.

The captaincy too lacked the versatility of a seasoned pro. There was no effort on Sanjay Raul’s part to make things happen on the field. He was guided by some fixed set of ideas in the decision-making process.

The ground fielding has been of a very low standard which, in turn, reflects on the fitness of the players. At one point after lunch, East fielders were only going through the motions.

Moreover, their inclination to run into the danger area prompted the umpires to caution the players on a few occasions.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla was warned a couple of times for running into the pitch on his follow-through and a repeat will prevent him from bowling in the innings.

The advent of the second new ball in the morning made no difference as Kanitkar and Modi carried on the run-plundering act. Once Kanitkar fell to one from Raul that hastened after pitching and Modi misread the line, Kotak and Aphale took charge.

They stitched together 106 runs for the fourth wicket that only strengthened their position further. Aphale was more attacking, using his feet against the spinners while Kotak’s was a more controlled innings. Aphale often had to battle cramps in the oppressive heat and humidity.

Towards the close, Sairaj Bahutule and Nayan Mongia got together. While Mongia took 83 balls for his 13, Bahutule was more aggressive.

Kanitkar wants to bat for another hour tomorrow before declaring. But that was before the downpour. It will probably now force a change in equations.


Calcutta, April 10: 
Manan Chandra and Pankaj Advani set the plush parlour of the Calcutta Swimming Club ablaze with some vintage form en route to the quarter finals of the fourth Asian under-21 snooker championship today..

Both Indians played with elan, reducing their respective opponents to hapless spectators. Top seed Chandra brushed aside Brunei’s Mohammed Zakaria 83-20, 97-0, 91-0, 81-13 while Advani posted the day’s biggest break (120 in the second frame) in his 78-40, 136-0, 65-25, 58-20 demolition of Singapore’s Tommy Boon Chin Ang.

Chinese prodigy Junhui Ding, yesterday’s hero, was off-colour — perhaps due to the lack of competition from today’s challenger Mubarak Al Owais of Kuwait. Junhui still managed to earn a 67-28, 58-18, 55-41, 67-38 victory.

Ding will meet compatriot Pengfei Tian — a 68-30, 133-0, 79-46, 74-48 victor over UAE’s Amin Mohammed Amin Fikree — in the quarters tomorrow. Tian had a 100-plus break in the second frame to give the impression that things will not be easy for Ding.

Chandra will face Bahrain’s Habib Sabah Humood while Advani meets Thailand’s Pramual Janthat. Chandra was a picture of calmness and concentration today and in the face of his vast array of shots, there was little Zakaria could do. The top seed had a streak of striking breaks, the highest of 91 coming in the third frame.

Advani, on the other hand, had to survive a stiff challenge in the opening frame with the second seed Ang covering the board quite well.

Once that phase was over, there was no looking back for the Indian. He got over the initial tentativeness with a stellar break of 120 and gobbled up the second frame 136-0. The rest was mere formality for Advani.

RESULTS (Pre-quarters) — Manan Chandra (Ind) bt Md. Zakaria (Bru) 83-20, 97-0, 91-0, 81-13; Habib Sabah Humood (Bah) bt Ruttanon Kematat (Thai) 66-46, 33-65, 116-08, 70-18, 50-60, 76-25; Pengfei Tian (Chn) bt Amin Md. Amin Fikree (UAE) 68-30, 133-0, 79-46, 74-48; Mubarak Al Owais (Kuw) lost to Junhui Ding (Chn) 28-67, 18-58, 41-55, 38-67; Pramual Janthat (Tha) bt Abdul Azeez (Bru) 92-17, 58-17, 26-59, 58-35, 72-06; Tommy Boon Chin Ang (Sin) lost to Pankaj Advani (Ind) 40-78, 0-136, 25-65, 20-58; Mun Kit Thean (Mal) bt Ali Md Al-Buffaroosha (UAE) 56-44, 50-34, 68-27, 32-45, 54-15; Keem Ho Moh (Mal) bt Sean ZA Ang (Sin) 61-62, 48-58, 96-25, 61-26, 81-37, 74-06.


Calcutta, April 10: 
Calcutta Customs Club thrashed Chittaranjan Locomotive Works Sports Association 6-1 while East Bengal got past BSF North Bengal 2-0 in the first division group A of the BHA league today.

East Bengal squandered several gilt-edged chances before settling for a 2-0 win over BSF (North). Rupam Adhikari converted a penalty stroke, when the BSF goalkeeper sat on the ball while clearing it, to hand the home team a deserved lead in the 19th minute.

East Bengal then extended the tally on the stroke of halftime. Chittaranjan Singh found the target through an angular hit from the right end of the D circle.

On the other hand, Aqueel Ahmed, P.K. Jeena and Rajinder Singh scored a brace each in the Calcutta Customs’ utter demolition of the CLW at Mohun Bagan ground. Peter Toppo netted the consolation goal for CLW.

In a first division group B action, Baranagar SC whipped Jagrihi 4-1 at Mohammedan Sporting ground. Sukhen Saha (2), Sukhen Burman and Sheik Kajer Ali were the scorers for Baranagar outfit while C. Bose found the target once for Jagrihi.


Calcutta, April 10: 
Vinod Kambli’s decision to make himself unavailable for West Zone’s ongoing Duleep Trophy tie versus East Zone, but take part in a promotional campaign in the city yesterday did raise a few eyebrows.

West captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar and manager Vasudev Patel, however, said “it was his personal decision” and they were unaware of his presence here.

West selector Mahendra Rajdev said: “Kambli had submitted a doctor’s certificate to Chandu Borde citing an ankle injury. He is here in his personal capacity and there’s nothing we can do.”


Calcutta, April 10: 
Soujan Biswas’ three-wicket haul helped Wari defeat Eastern Railway by 16 runs in the A.N. Ghosh Trophy today. Incidentally, Mohun Bagan has already been assured of the title.

BRIEF SCORES: Wari 219/7 in 45 ovs (Pulak Das 40; Kanchan Maity 3/31). ERSA 203/9 in 45 (Amal kr Das 51, Asif Murtaza 29; Soujan Biswas 3/33). Wari won by 16 runs.


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