Just don�t give up, Sachin tells team
No decision on Shoaib yet
Pioline beats Sanguinetti
Azhar should�ve been here, says Burge
Bhupati will be fit in 5 months
A sporting haven for all ages
Boys should not join big clubs soon, says Arun Gho
So Royal set to make amends
Nine to vie for Sunday�s Derby

Brisbane, Jan. 7 
For Indian cricket, it�s time to look ahead. Surely, nobody will either get comfort or be inspired by reflecting on the past few weeks. The beginning, as they say, has to be made here.

�Just don�t give up and, yes, try and make things happen,� is what Sachin Tendulkar has been telling his team.

That, perhaps, is easier said than done, but during a chat this evening, the captain insisted he wasn�t disappointed with the effort during the Test series.

�It does get difficult when you keep trying but things simply don�t fall into place. I do believe, though, the players tried to put in their best. Unfortunately, it wasn�t good enough. Today, however, it�s the (Carlton and United) tri-series we�ve got to look at,� Sachin remarked.

Match No.1 for India will be at the Gabba on Monday, versus Pakistan.

Sachin, whose �personal� views on sporting contacts with Pakistan during the Kargil war made a splash worldwide, acknowledged the game would be �tense,� but quickly added: �At the same time, players enjoy the competition...�

While it remains to be seen who scores more on the enjoyment-scale, the Indians, who arrived from Sydney this afternoon, began their tri-series workout this evening. It was three hours of solid stuff, much of it under the Gabba lights.

For a team walloped 0-3, the players looked reasonably relaxed and among the more vocal was Ajit Agarkar, fresh from five ducks in-a-row. It�s been a dubious achievement but to Agarkar�s credit, he hasn�t allowed that to dampen enthusiasm.

Bubbly, too, was Debashish Mohanty. A passenger during the Test series, he is bound to play some role in the next few weeks. Mohanty probably knows that.

Incidentally, the players� outfit for the tri-series arrived this evening and the consignment � from the Board, mind you � included shirts for Ajay Jadeja, M.S.K. Prasad and Vijay Bharadwaj!

Somebody, at least, thought of them as certainties.

Yeh sab kyon?� asked Kapil Dev, who did the sorting out, not particularly amused by the oversight of those responsible for couriering. In fact, on seeing Jadeja�s shirt, he even whispered: �Ab itna bhi mat karo...

A bit of reading between the lines is called for. Not too much, though.

Kapil, who turned 41 yesterday, hosted a team dinner (in Sydney). Asked whether the boys presented a gift, he quipped: �Yes, a big one � a big hug. It�s the young ones who should receive presents...�

The perfect gift would have been a top-bracket performance in Sydney. But that was not to be. Kapil, however, isn�t the sort to either reveal or dwell on disappointments.

The Indians� unpublicised workout attracted a clutch of fans, some of them Indian expats. Among those present was former Karnataka and Kerala quick V. Hariharan.

Hariharan, who shuttles between Bangalore and Glasgow, where he coaches during the summer, is in Australia for a short coaching stint.

Meanwhile, irrespective of the number of people who watch Monday�s clash, security personnel will leave nothing to chance. According to reports, a �riot alert� has been declared.    

Calcutta, Jan. 7 
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is yet to take a decision on Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar � suspended from international cricket for his illegal bowling action � and is expected to reach a conclusion by tomorrow.

Although a decision was likely to be taken by the ICC president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, today, no decision on the fate of the fast bowler could be taken till late this evening.

Dalmiya held tele-conferences with Sir Clyde Walcott, chairman of the ICC cricket committee, and some other senior officials. Dalmiya, it was learnt, had asked the ICC office to send him certain relevant documents and papers before taking a decision.

A decision is expected by tomorrow, a day before the tri-series involving Australia, Pakistan and India gets underway in Brisbane.

After the ICC�s advisory panel suspended Akhtar, the Pakistan Cricket Board had lodged an appeal, seeking revocation of the suspension order. The advisory panel then referred the matter to Dalmiya and Sir Walcott.    

Chennai, Jan. 7 
Davide Sanguinetti threw probing questions at Cedric Pioline. The classy Frenchman stammered at times, but ultimately came up with the right answers to take his rightful berth in the semi-finals of the $400,000 Gold Flake Open this evening.

Urged on by a below-capacity crowd which had seen enough of giantkilling acts, the world No. 13 and second seed here squeezed out a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) verdict in an hour and 55 minutes. It was quite easily the most entertaining match of the week.

Up-and-coming German, the unseeded Markus Hantschk, earned a date with Pioline as he came through a nerve-wracking three-setter 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 against lucky loser Tuomas Ketola of Finland.

Tomorrow�s second semi-final will pit Pioline�s countryman and fourth seed Jerome Golmard against seasoned Czech pro Martin Damm. The left-handed Golmard whipped British qualifier Jamie Delgado 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the semis without dropping a set in three matches.

Damm had an easy time too, tackling the power of Swiss Lorenzo Manta well to eke out a 6-4, 6-4 win. For Manta, it was third time unlucky � he beat two Czechs in his previous rounds before falling to the most talented one.

In their only previous meeting, Sanguinetti had the better of Pioline in straight sets. That was on claycourt in Rome. If the Frenchman thought the faster hardcourt here would help him avenge that humiliation, he was mistaken. Sanguinetti not only looked the better player for a set and a half, he even threatened to hijack the last star attraction of this lacklustre tournament.

Like in his match against Leander Paes, Pioline conceded an early break. A two-fisted backhand return, the biggest weapon in Sanguinetti�s armoury, created the opening for the Italian. Of course, he was a tad lucky to convert the break-point as a charging Pioline flicked over a delectable angled volley but fell over the net in the process to be penalised.

The 30-year-old Frenchman, throwing in one double-fault too many and getting neither any rhythm nor timing on his returns, dropped serve again in the seventh game. Serving for the set, Sanguinetti came across the first hint of resistance from his opponent. Pioline strung together three decent service returns to pull one break back.

Just when one thought the second seed would turn on the heat, he was floored by Sanguinetti�s consistency in bringing off high-quality groundstrokes. As Pioline got broken for the third time, the set was gone.

The two traded breaks early in the second set, as Pioline got into the match gradually. But it was only when Sanguinetti played his worst service-game that Pioline got his nose in front. The Italian, who has come a long way since losing a Davis Cup rubber in straight sets to Mahesh Bhupathi at Genoa in early 1998, committed four mistakes to surrender serve and give Pioline a 4-3 lead.

Pioline, whose laid-back style and lazy body language often sends out the wrong signals, held his next service game easily. But as he served in the 10th game to square the match, another bout of carelessness struck the two-time Grand Slam finalist. Fortunately for him, Sanguinetti couldn�t grab any of the four break-back points that were presented to him. An artistic drop volley from Pioline clinched the equaliser for him.

The final set saw both men grit their teeth for a battle royale. As the duo played safe, serves were held rather comfortably. Sanguinetti, a surprisingly good all-court player considering he is an Italian, came up with four back-to-back aces in Game 3 to announce he was ready to go the distance.

Quarter-finalist at the �98 Wimbledon, Sanguinetti almost knocked up the crucial service-break in the sixth game. An intended forehand pass missed the line by an inch, to Pioline�s relief.

There were no further break-points in the set and the tie-breaker came almost inevitably. Equally inevitable was the outcome as Pioline showed why he won most number of tie-breakers on the Tour last year (30). As a kicking serve was followed up by an Edberg-like sliken volley, Pioline had shut the doors on Sanguinetti.

The unseeded Italian had played a great match only to bow to experience and determination.    

Brisbane, Jan. 7 
A solid batsman during his playing days, Peter Burge returned to the headlines when the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced the Code of Conduct and Match Referees (1991-92). And, he will always be remembered for handing out the first suspension �Aaqib Javed, in 1992-93.

So, you don�t really mess around with Burge who, otherwise, is quite jovial. As he is a director with Queensland Cricket, there�s no way you can miss him at the Gabba.

Having been the ICC�s man on-the-spot in many series/tournaments involving India, Burge has been having a rather close look at Indian cricket. This afternoon, he spoke to The Telegraph, largely answering a range of India-specific questions.

Following are excerpts

On India�s dismal showing in the Test series

The lack of competition left me disappointed. As an Australian I�m definitely very happy with our victories, both over India and Pakistan, but such one-sided contests don�t do the game any good.

On the Indian batting, which was a mega flop

Your guys just couldn�t cope with the bounce... I�ve seen them in the sub-continent, and they are capable of being competitive. Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, in particular, disappointed me.

On Sachin Tendulkar

It�s never easy when the expectations of a billion people are on your shoulders each time you take guard... With all that weight, I really felt for him... If I may digress, I�m happy Laxman is staying back... He was brilliant in Sydney and it�s my belief that good Test players can play limited overs cricket, too.

On whether, on the evidence of some appalling decisions, Sachin was made a �target�

(Laughs) I wouldn�t agree though, yes, he got two-three decisions which could really have gone either way... Actually, I don�t agree with the amount of appealling that goes on. Some of it is absolutely unnecessary.

On talk that both umpires should be from a third-country

Couldn�t disagree more. Imagine, Dickie Bird would have been denied the chance to stand in England and, in today�s context, Venkat wouldn�t get opportunities in India. No, no, no... That�s not on. Instead, what can be done, is that the ICC could have a panel of the 10-12 best umpires without regard to nationality.

Indeed, when you pick the best XI players, why not also have the best XI umpires?

On who should judge the umpires

Straightforward: Match Referees and captains... I�m glad I�m a Match Referee and not an umpire. Having seen them from close quarters, both as a player and now, I can say with emphasis that no job is more difficult than that of an umpire.

On whether the third umpire�s jurisdiction should be expanded

Look, I�m all for the benefits derived from technology but the balance currently in place is just fine. It would be a sad day if the third umpire was to rule on LBW appeals... With so much money, specially, cricket has become a cut-throat game. Still, I wouldn�t like the umpires out in the middle to be made redundant.

On whether Match Referees should step in

When it�s very obvious that something (wrong) has happened? Yes, the Match Referee could be allowed to use his discretion... He could communicate with the umpire in question. Don�t see anything wrong in that and I don�t see why there should be a problem.

On what has contributed to Australia being on a roll

I�m not knocking our side down, but it began with some luck in the World Cup. After all, till they choked, South Africa were on course to win the Super-Six game and the semi-final... Clearly, in cricket, you don�t get anywhere without some luck.

Having said that, I must add winning has become a habit and no Australian will complain... We�ve had continuity and our back-up � batting in particular � is top quality. Depth, skill... We�re well-placed though I must confess everything looks good as long as you keep winning.

On Steve Waugh indicating he will review his future after the forthcoming series in New Zealand

I believe he can play for two-three seasons. Steve�s led well, without being weighed down by the Mark Taylor legacy. At the same time, Steve�s got a good team... Honestly, I haven�t seen a good captain who didn�t have a good side under him...

On the Carlton and United Series which gets underway Sunday

(Smiles) One-day cricket is such that bad teams can beat good teams... I�m sure, though, it will be competitive.

Finally, on whether he would have picked Mohammed Azharuddin

I always regarded Azhar a good captain and batsman, but he was getting on a bit and the quicks were beginning to worry him. Seeing the present lot of Indian batsmen, it�s easy to say he should have been in Australia... All that, however, is with the benefit of hindsight...

Well, you�ve asked me about Azhar now, perhaps, you can tell me why Mongia isn�t around?    

Chennai, Jan. 7 
Despite the surgery-related mental trauma he is going through, Mahesh Bhupathi is putting up a brave and optimistic front.

The Bangalorean believes he can actually be ready in time to defend the French Open and Wimbledon crowns come May-June. �I can�t say whether we�ll be able to retain those titles, but there�s every chance of us playing both those Slams together,� the junior partner of the history-creating pair said this evening.

In Chennai as part of the Star TV commentary team, Bhupathi said he and Paes have had a chat about his progress. �But we didn�t discuss a probable date of getting back together on the Tour. Leander is committed to playing with Sebastian (Lareau) till I�m out of action. As soon as I�m ready to play at the level we are used to, we�ll be back.�

By his own admission, the sling will come off in a week�s time and he can start hitting in March. �I am hoping to resume competitive tennis in May,� he said. If that materialises, he�ll have about three weeks to get ready for the French Open.

The Indian No. 2, however, ruled out hiring Bob Carmichael for the time being. �I had planned to share Bob with Leander in order to improve my singles standard. But this surgery (done in New York end of November) has sent everything haywire. It won�t be possible to work with Bob now.�

As he explained, Bhupathi would be forced to play singles at the Futures and the Satellite level while Paes will be playing at the Challenger level. �The weeks we aren�t going to be together for doubles, our schedules won�t match.�

He said he hadn�t decided who he will train with once he is back in the circuit. �Rico (Piperno) is an option, let�s see. Right now, I have to stay positive and take care so that I return to the game at the earliest.�

Bhupathi was happy at the way the Davis Cup captain Ramesh Krishnan had taken his new job to heart. �He has been in touch with me over e-mail and I can make out he is very serious. That augurs well for the team,� Bhupathi said adding that Ramesh wanted him to be at the court side for the Lebanon tie in Lucknow next month. �I haven�t decided whether I�ll come but I don�t think it will be possible.�

He didn�t agree with the AITA�s decision of not appointing a coach for the Davis Cup. �We need a big infrastructure. At a time when other teams are expanding the back-up staff, I don�t see any reason why we should cut down on ours.�

That�s the same thought as Paes�. Is the AITA listening?    

Jamshedpur, Jan. 7 
Imagine this scenario: a sprawling green complex which boasts of every sporting activity you can think of and people of all ages, from toddlers to elderly ladies and gentlemen, taking part in some kind of games or the other. Some are in serious pursuit of their chosen field, others just looking for a more active and healthy was of life.

It may seem like a figment of imagination, but to eyes that have grown tired of seeing concrete jungles, the JRD Tata Sports complex here is almost a miracle.

Ensconced here is the Tata Archery Academy (TAA) where, under the watchful eyes of Arjuna Awardee Sanjeeva Singh, the champions of tomorrow are being groomed. In this residential academy, set up in October 1996, the cadets go through a strict training schedule and the results have already started to show.

The complex also boasts of training centres for tennis, cricket, athletics, boxing and chess, and a fitness centre for women. These centres, however, are not residential, but anyone interested, whether an employee of the company or not, is welcome to take advantage of the facilities.

And all this is done in the area which was initially planned to be a parking lot for the Keenan Stadium. �The only time Keenan is filled to capacity is when there are international matches, which is not very often, so we decided to utilise the space. On days when the parking area is actually required, we will let them use the grounds,� said Satish Pillai, senior divisional manager of the sports department of Tisco.

The TAA is the second of the Tata sports academies, the first being the Tata Football Academy (TFA). In a span of little more than three years, the archery cadets have made a mark on the national scdene.

Among others are Chekrovolu Swuro, who won two silver medals in the first Asian Cup circuit meet in Bangkok last May. Other cadets who have made their presence felt in the national arena, winning junior and sub-junior titles, are Girija Devi, Bhagyabati Chanu, Sanatan Soren, Linthoi Devi, Harish Kerai, Gurcharan Besra, Dola Banerjee and Reena Kumari.

Sanjeeva, and assistant coaches Purnima Mahato and Dharmendra periodically go to different parts of the country, specially the North-Eastern states and the tribal belts nearby, to spot future archers.

�We go by their physique, make them go through certain tests, and then bring them to the academy for a short period. After further scrutiny, the ones with better potential are trained for six months, and only after that the final selection is made,� said Sanjeeva.

The senior cadets train with latest imported equipment. The academy also stresses on education and all the cadets are enrolled in local schools or open universities.

The athletics training centre has coaches like former national hurdles champion Basant Singh. Started in 1996, the centre aims to produce national-level athletes. But even those who just want to try it out for the fun of it are welcome.

�Children from all around come here,� Basant said. He singled out hurdler Partha Sarathi Pahi, who won gold medals in the Eastern Zonal meet in Calcutta and under-22 nationals in Imphal last year, as one of his best wards.

The boxing training centre is unique in itself. It was set up using scrap metal and cuttings which were left over after laying the synthetic turf. The ring and most of the gym equipment created from these have lasted for nearly five years now, and look good for years to come. With heroes like R.K. Sangwan (1994 Asian Games gold medallist), Birju Sah (1994 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist) and Z.V. Jollyson to look up to, the trainees here have already started winning medals in national meets.

Among the promising ones are Diwakar Prasad, Gurcharan Singh and A.L. Lakra. A. Narayan Rao is the chief coach here, assisted by Bijay Jana and B.N. Naik.    

Jamshedpur, Jan. 7 
Another batch of Tata Football Academy (TFA) cadets are all ready to face the big bad world of the Indian soccer scene � the convocation is scheduled for March 3 � and the chief of TFA, Arun Ghosh, is happy with the crop that is to emerge from under his guidance.

Unwilling to single out any one from the pack, he is more concerned with the impact they may have in the national football scene in general.

While there is no doubting the fact that the TFA does produce good footballers, equally stark is the reality that a majority of their cadets fail to live up to the expectations � the latest being the case of Sheik Sanjib, who held a lot of promise but, playing for East Bengal, he has not really been able to create an impact in the Super Division.

Ghosh is of the view that after graduating from the TFA, the boys should not immediately join big clubs, where they are likely to spend most of the time on the bench. �I have tried to tell them to initially join clubs where they will get to play the maximum number of matches. But I can only advice. They keep getting lucrative deals from big clubs and if they take it up, I cannot stop them,� he said.

He, however, added that for future batches, he has plans to introduce professional career counselling to help the cadets chose the right path.

As an answer to the age old question which has dogged TFA since its inception in 1987 � that why the academy does not sport a soccer team as well, Dr J.J. Irani, managing director Tata Steel, said: �Its not our policy. The TFA is an academy. We produce footballers and provide them to the mainstream Indian football. Like an IIT or an IIM we nurture our cadets� talents. But after that they have to hold their own in the real world.�

Dr Irani added that Tisco has no immediate plans to expand their training centres into academies. �We opened TFA since soccer is our national sport. And then we started the archery academy as it is a very popular sport in the local tribal areas. Though our other centres are doing well, we don�t want to spread our resources too thin,� he said.

With the Super Soccer no longer a valid option, Dr Irani agreed that an under-19 international meet may be held in the future.

Asked why the Super Soccer, an event which caused such tremendous interest among football lovers of the country was stopped in 1993, S.N. Mishra, general manager, social services and sports of Tisco, said the company was asked to caugh up a huge amount � to the tune of nearly Rs 65 lakhs � by an event management group who had a contract with the All India Football Federation (AIFF). �While the AIFF had always supported us, we really had to think twice before giving away that kind of money,� Mishra said.

With players like Carlton Chapman, Tauseef Jamal, Alok Das, Dipendu Biswas and James Singh to boast of, the TFA certainly can claim it is improving the general standard of the game in India.

Dr Irani also has plans to provide equipment and technical knowhow to children�s camps and thus generate a bank from where future TFA cadets can be chosen. This, he said, will make the scouting process more systematic.

Ghosh rued the fact that nowadays individual skill is not stressed upon in most clubs and training camps. �Now a player has to suit a system. But here we endeavour to create a complete player,� he added.    

Bangalore, Jan. 7 
So Royal from the yard of Darius Byramji who let down a host of supporters last time out is expected to make amends when he takes on the ten rivalsfor the Hoysala Cup, tomorrow. K. P. Appu partners the Tiajuana-Nauti Miner four-year-old gelding.


2.30 pm: Empire Royal 1. May Goodness 2. True Son 3.

3 pm: Alylady 1. Symphony of Fire 2.

3.30 pm: Sunspirit 1. Rosalie 2. Our Paradise 3.

4 pm: Gullane 1. Strudes of Fire 2. Soviet Bay 3.

4.30 pm: Mr Bevedere 1. Ammunition 2. Badge Of Fame 3.

5 pm: So Royal 1. Great Estate 2. Minoan 3.

5.30 pm: Fabuslously Bold 1. Supromene 2. Financer 3.

Day�s Best: So Royal Double: Alylady & Gullane    

Calcutta, Jan. 7 
Come Sunday, nine four-year-old thoroughbreds will line-up for the the Wills Calcutta Derby Stakes, generously sponsored by ITC Ltd. There are four fillies in the line-up.Each of the seven events on the day has been named after the past Calcutta Derby Winner under the ITC banner. First race starts at 12.30 pm. Acceptances with declarations

1. Robin Hood Cup 2,2oom (Cl IV,Rt. 22-50, lower class eligible 12.30 pm: Tejeni 60 Bird 4; Charlene 59 Connorton 2; Athletico 54.5 C. Alford 1; Air Comamnd 49 Merchant 3.

2. Zara Shah Cup 1,600m (Cl II, Rt. 66-94, lower Class Eligible) 1.05 pm: Astrajoy 60 Bird 2; Absolve 56.5 Amil 3; As Ever 55 Kader 4; Prince Obolensky 55 Connorton 7; Majestic Star 53.5 Merchant 5; Classic Leader 53.5 Gurang 2; Remember The Day 50.5 Rutherford 6.

3. Astounding Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) 1.50 pm: Consul�s Secret 60.5 Bird 2; Sky Hawk 58.5 Amil 3; A Million Memories 58.5 Eddery 6; Amarante 56.5 C. Alford 6; Light Reflections 54 Hughes 7; Constantine 51.5 Yacoob 4; Sheerness 51 Islam 5; Magic Fountain 50.5 A. P. Singh 1; Anytime Better 48.5 Razzak 9.

4. Aspirant Cup 1,100m (Terms, 3-y-o only) 2.25 pm: Rock Falcon 58.5 Hughes 7; Ashbury 55 Eddery 1; Ballet Master 55 Merchant 2; Magnifico 55 C. Alford 3; Alocina 53.5 Kader 5; Madame X 53.5 Shanker 6; Quizzical 53.5 Amil 4.

5. Wills Calcutta Derby Stakes 2,400m (Terms, 4-y-o only) 3 pm: Alameda 56 C. Alford 4; Audible 56 Eddery 6; Legal Steps 56 Kader 5; North American (Withdrawn) 56; Scavenger�s Son 56 Kharadi 7; Splendid Pride 56 Hughes 3; Allosaki 54.5 Connorton 8; Astrodance 54.5 Ruzaan 1; Opera Star 54.5 Merchant 2; State Tresure 54.5 Gowli 9.

6. Oakmead Trophy 1,200m (Cl I, Rt. 88 & over) 3.40 pm: Chief Of Staff 63.5 R�Ford 2; Amyntor 61.5 C. Alford 1; Prosperous 57 Merchant 5; Dominate 56.5 Gurang 13; Schillaci 56 Hughes 4; Seccessor 56 Manohar 10; Falconhead 54.5 Eddery 12; Quickdraw McGraw 54 Gowli 11; Kansai 51.5 Shanker 6; Pertigalete 51 Yasin 3; Bold Invader 51 Ruzaan 8; Acquest 51 Islam 9; Arlington 47 Amil 7.

7. Aphroze Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 0-28) 4.15 pm: Magic Ring 60 Akhtar 1; Alyssum 59 C. Alford 6; Internal Affair 58.5 Merchyant 5; Knight Charmer 58.5 Amil 3; Bul Bul 57 Yacoob 2; Remember Me 55 Gowli 7; Tabasco King 51 Kujur 4; Lord of The Manor 50 Brij S. 8.

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

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


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