Indians await last-ditch game
Dropping Mongia is strange, feels Healy
Tollygunge hold Mahindras, too
Analogy wins nerve-wracking race
Prince Obolensky impresses
Allaire set win her second �Million�

Hobart, Jan. 19 
�Oh, you�re headed for the cricket is it? But you should be carrying some bats... Better still, you could have got some batters,� was the Ansett facilitation officer�s remark as one prepared to depart from Sydney this afternoon.

Well, none of the Indians have blamed the willow for their dismal run, but one can�t really take umbrage at what the Ansett officer said. If not anything else, he has been spot-on where India�s problem lies.

Friday, of course, isn�t far from possibly being India� s last chance to get their act right. One more defeat, after all, could effectively end India�s Carlton and United series campaign: the four remaining matches may, then largely be for the record books.

But the Indians can take heart from Pakistan�s big loss (to Australia) at the SCG tonight. Indeed, in the circumstances the Indians find themselves (zero points from three outings), no news could be better.

Having arrived here yesterday itself the Indians, in any case, have had enough time to make themselves familiar with the landscape of this pretty harbour city, Tasmania�s capital.

The Indians� last trip, five weeks ago, produced a yawn of a game against Tasmania but, come Friday, and the Bellerive Oval may not be for the weak-hearted.

As for Pakistan, who arrive here tomorrow, they should be weighed down on two counts: defeat in that sensational Hobart Test, back in November, and tonight�s loss.

What shape the Pakistan XI will take isn�t as yet clear, but there are indications where India is concerned.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, middle-order bat Jacob Martin, who hurt his shoulder at the MCG last week and had to miss India�s last match (versus Australia, at the SCG), is set to return. Back among the reserves will be Devang Gandhi.

The Indians may effect one more change, finally giving Debashish Mohanty a game. In that case, out of the XI will be Nikhil Chopra. However, at the moment, that is only being talked about.

There�s still time to finalise that change, if at all. In the meantime, for those with nerves on edge, soaking in a bit of Hobart, Australia�s second-oldest city after Sydney, won�t do any harm.

In fact, there�s lots to see and tourism is a huge industry here, arguably the biggest. With the river Derwent cutting across the city, one of the sights is the Tasaman Bridge itself, which �links� the two ends.

Twenty-four years ago, though, it didn�t present a pretty picture when a freighter smashed into it, leading to 13 deaths � including six motorists.

But that�s something of the past. And even further down in history is the time when Tasmania was a top destination for those convicted on mainland Australia. Legend has it that the streets here have tunnels, which were dig with official sanction.

Intriguing but, apparently the idea was to keep the convicts� movement entirely underground. For instance, the tunnels (from the prison) led to either the church or hospital. And, so, if convicts were required to visit either, they would do so via the tunnel route.

For India, the staying-in-the-competition route is more straightforward: a win will do.    

Hobart, Jan. 19 
A world-record 395 Test dismissals (366 of them catches), plus 233 victims in one-day Internationals. Measure that by any yardstick, and it�s a phenomenal record. It belongs to Ian Healy, who quit earlier this season.

Appropriately, then, Healy got chosen ahead of idol Rod Marsh in Australia�s Team of the Century. The announcement was made in Sydney yesterday and Healy, a few months shy of his 36th birthday, spoke to The Telegraph shortly after that.

Following are excerpts

Q Well, are you missing the game?

A You mean playing? No... As for the game itself, I continue to be very close to it... There are assignments on the TV, columns to be written. Even though I�m no longer a player, I�m still doing pretty much the same things. Travelling for instance.

Q But did deciding to retire come easy?

A Actually, it did. My time was up and I wasn�t enjoying the game any more... Playing had begun to become a chore, which should never happen.

Q More than your �keeping, it�s the batting which wasn�t as it ought to have been...

A I accept it... It did become frustrating when the effort I put in (as a batsman) just wouldn�t get reflected out in the middle.

Q Today, then, how do you look back on your career (which began in Karachi, 1988-89)?

A Australia has always had very good wicketkeepers and I�m happy that legacy didn�t break with me. It was an honour playing for Australia � I was only the 344th player, which means not many get to fulfil their dreams... I enjoyed my innings, but the time had come to move on.

Q Did you expect Adam Gilchrist to make such a fine impression, straightaway, in Test cricket?

A I did, and for a number of reasons. He had already played for Australia (in the one-dayers), so he had that feel of international cricket. Then, because he�d done well, he wasn�t short on confidence. Adam was convinced he could do the job... Indeed, he can only thrive in the atmosphere of this Australian team.

Q Will you elaborate?

A (Smiles) We have a very positive culture, which rubs off... We not only maintain standards, but seek to improve them. Newcomers, for instance, are told to do what they know best. I mean, somebody like Brett Lee was just asked to go flat out, on debut. This gives confidence to youngsters.

Generally, after all, the tendency of those who make the big league is to do too much... Try too hard. But, if you give them confidence, they�ll respond differently and quickly settle down. Bottomline is that you don�t have to be any different from what you are used to being... The newcomers, in particular, should remember this.

Q There�s nobody more qualified than you to talk about it: What makes a good wicketkeeper?

A One can always work and develop on the footwork, but the hands have got to be �soft�... One must have both a high level of endurance as well as concentration. A good wicketkeeper should be able to switch-on when the ball is bowled and switch-off after it�s reached �dead� status. If he can�t, intense concentration simply cannot be spread across the innings.

Q How did you keep your concentration going?

A I made the most of the switch-off periods, I made the most of the lunch and tea breaks... I knew it was important to stay as alert at 4.30-5.00 in the evening as at 10.00 in the morning... The hardest time, of course, is when wickets don�t fall and the ball rarely comes through to you. Suddenly, though, a dismissal-ball could head your way but, because of the circumstances, you may not be ready.

Q You kept to a clutch of outstanding bowlers. Was it difficult �keeping to any one in particular?

A Shane Warne�s probably been the best... In his prime, every ball would turn viciously... It wasn�t easy standing up to him... Merv Hughes, too, was a bit difficult to �keep, to. Not so much because of the pace, but because he could be erratic.

As for the others, well, it was an absolute pleasure �keeping to them: Craig McDermott, Bruce Reid, Glenn McGrath... They all had an excellent sense of where the ball should land and, they were only rarely off target.

Q Was there eye-contact between you and, say, Warne indicating the type of ball that would be bowled?

A No... It�s like this, the more you �keep to a particular bowler, the better your anticipation. There are times when the wicketkeeper can guess something is being set up... (Adds laughing) There wasn�t any mysterious understanding between us.

Q Among current wicketkeepers, who stand out?

A Moin Khan is probably the best, with Mark Boucher running him close. Then, there�s Gilchrist... I can�t club Nayan Mongia with this lot as he�s out of favour. I�m surprised he�s been dropped...

Your selectors have made a dangerous decision, as you don�t drop your wicketkeeper just when he has settled down. Clearly, something like that can rock the team... It�s like losing a vital cog in your machine. Wicketkeeping is such a specialised job that starting from scratch doesn�t come easy. Dropping Mongia has been strange...

To go back to the top ones, Moin rarely makes too many mistakes, even though it�s tough having to �keep to bowlers who can prodigiously swing the ball both ways... Boucher has got off to an exceptional start and, if he keeps up this strike-rate, he�s the one who could break my record. Boucher isn�t a terrific mover, but has good hands and is a good catcher.

To help a wicketkeeper get established, a nation must be patient. Wicketkeepers need time, please appreciate that... And, if a wicket-keeper is to eventually emerge a world record-holder, he�s got to be in a team which regularly takes 20 wickets in every match. I was very fortunate to have that cushion. Boucher, too, is well-placed.

Q Were you only influenced by Rod Marsh?

A Marsh, certainly, and Queensland�s John Maclean. As I lived in the countryside, my exposure to them was through the TV. I took to their style... Australian wicketkeepers like to move their feet a lot more and get outside the line in order to cover more distance, on the feet.

Q Just how does it feel, being the most successful wicketkeeper-ever?

A Great. But, at the same time, I know that records are made to be broken.

Q The final question: Which dismissals are more special than the others?

A (Smiles again) Hmmm... The stumping of Graham Thorpe off Warne at Edgbaston, in 1993... The ball had turned and jumped out of the rough. Then, I suppose the stumping of Mark Butcher off Michael Bevan, at Old Trafford three years ago...

A catch, too: My 200th (Darryl Cullinan, off Craig McDermott, in Adelaide)... The batsman ducked into a bouncer, the ball struck the back of his bat and I took it on the leg-side.    

Calcutta, Jan. 19 
Tollygunge Agragamai and Mahindra and Mahindra split points as their Coca-Cola National League match ended 1-1 at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium today.

The result helped Mahindras take their tally to 16 and Tollygunge to 13 with the teams completing nine matches each.

The visitors took the lead just before half time. Striker Mohammed Najeeb took full advantage of a defensive lapse and wrongfooted a defender before shooting past an advancing Bivash Ghosh. Stung by the reverse, Tollygunge went all out in the second half and restored parity in the 64th minute. Following a measured cross from midfielder Awoyemi Isiaka, Nigerian striker Seriki Abdulateef headed home.

The goal inspired the home team to launch a series of attacks and they came close in the dying minutes but Moses Owira�s header missed the target by inches.

Mahindra defender S. Hussain was booked twice and left the turf in the 88th minute.    

Calcutta, Jan. 19 
Although favourites were to the fore in today�s race-card, punters understandably failed to cash in on them, albeit for different reasons. The odds offered on Celtic Bleu in the Navy Cup were too crammed, while wagering on Sharp Sensation in the Baqlava Cup and Analogy in the Indian Champagne Stakes, in punters� view, could be suicidal in the light of their drifting odds. However, the Sensations� long lay off from the track and an element of drama in prior to the running of the �Champagne� were the real reason behind the price drift.

Analogy bolted over a good 1,000m trip, no sooner Aslam Kader for reasons unknown unmounted from the horse upon entering the race-track. The Vijay Singh-trainee, nevertheless, scored, albeit by a neck, in the manner Alternator had won his maiden start after badly trailing the field till the home turn. Nerve wrecking but a good show beyond doubt. RESULTS

1. Victo Handicap 1,400m: (2-3-4-5) Single Dawn (Merchant) 1; Carabineer (Saran) 2; Aristotemus (Yasin) 3; Age Of Miracles (Shanker) 4. Won by: 3; 2-1/2; 2; (1-30.6). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 14; 27; Quinella: 64; Tanala: 342. Fav: Single Dawn (2). Winner trained by R. Alford.

2. Chettinad Republic Cup 1,600m: (2-3-6-1) Kaizen (Connorton) 1; Arendal (Kader) 2; Swash Buckler (Brij) 3; Giorgio (C. Alford) 4. Won by: 1-1/2; 2-1/2; Nk; (1-42.3). Tote: Win Rs 80; Place: 30; 12; Quinella: 43; Tanala: 2,217. Fav: Arendal (3). Winner trained by Bharath S.

3. Baqlava Cup 2,000m: (2-1-4-3) Sharp Sensation (Kader) 1; Milano (C. Alford) 2; Charlene (Rabani) 3; Acadameus (Amil) 4. Won by: 1-1/2; 1/2; 2-1/2; (2-12.6). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 14; 20; Quinella: 38; Tanala: 123. Fav: Sharp Sensation (2). Winner trained by D. David.

4. Navy Cup 1,400m: (3-2-4-1) Celtic Bleu (Merchant) 1; A Ma Dats�E (Shanker) 2; Friendly Knight (Saran) 3; Ironstone (Islam) 4. Won by: 3-3/4; 1/2; 3-1/2; (1-28.7). Tote: Win Rs 13; Place: 11; 28; Quinella: 32; Tanala: 86. Fav: Celtic Bleu (3). Winner trained by R. Alford.

5. Indian Champagne Stakes 1,400m: (2-4-6-1) Analogy (Kader) 1; Soviet Port (Manohar) 2; Endless Surprise (C. Alford) 3; Airs Image (Merchant) 4. Won by: Nk; 2; 2-1/4; (1-27.7). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 14; 25; Quinella: 51; Tanala: 130. Fav: Analogy (2). Winner trained by Vijay S.

6. Vibrant Handicap 1,200m: (1-7-4-3) Dramatic Turn (Akhtar) 1; Noble Canonire (Salim) 2; Knight Charmer (Razzak) 3; Swingtime (K. Kumar) 4. Not run: Piece Of Cake (2). Won by: 1-1/2; 2; 1-3/4; (1-15.8). Tote: Win Rs 90; Place: 19; 17; 14; Quinella: 237; Tanala: 1,416. Fav: Knight Charmer (4). Winner trained by J. Stephens.

Jackpot: Rs 5,743; (C) Rs 120.

Treble: (i) Rs 509; (ii) Rs 329.    

Calcutta, Jan. 19 
Prince Obolensky, Joe The Pro and Allied Forces were impressive when the following track-work was recorded this morning:

Outer sand track

2,200m: Astrajoy (C. Alford) and Legal Steps (Kader) in 2-53s; (800m) 1-1s; (400m) 30s. Former one length better.

1,400m: Allspice (C. Alford) and Aloritz (Kader) in 1-39s; (400m) 27 3/5s. Former head better.

1,200m: Bountiful Treasure (Kader) in 1-26s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Serenader (Kader) and Auctioneer (C. Alford) in 1-23 4/5s; (400m) 29s. Former one length better.

1,000m: Prince Obolensky (Shanker) and Joe The Pro (C. Alford) in 1-8s; (400m) 26s. Both level. Wild Dreams (Rb) and no. 65 (Islam) in 1-14s; (400m) 28 1/5s. Former better.

800m: Kaizer Sozay (Yadav), Classic Leader (Gurang) and Highland Ridge (Rutherford) in 55s; (400m) 28s. They were separated by 2 ls and a distance. Assyrian (Kader) and Magic Fountain (C. Alford) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Former much superior. Super Sunrise (C. Alford) in 54s; (400m) 26 3/5s. Good. Avionic (C. Alford) and Ocean Sunset (Rb) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Former a head better. Both moved well. Allied Forces (Kader) in 53s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Impressed. Consul�s Secret (Saran) in 56s; (400m) 29s. Master Of The Rolls (Som) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Easy.600m: Starry Flag (Bird) in 42s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

800m: Zingari (Som) and Tequila Shot (Shanker) in 50s; (400m) 23s. Former head better. Heaven�s Blessing (Rb) and Godlen Heart (Yasin) in 52s; (400m) 24 1/5s. Former who was handy finished 2 ls better. Soft Ware (Yasin) and Floral Path (Rb) in 52s; (400m) 25s. Former 4 ls better.

600m: Remember The Day (Yadav) in 38s; (400m) 24s. Strictly Royal (Rb) in 39 3/5s; (400m) 25 4/5s.    

An impressive winner of the 1,000m Pratap Stud Million, the well-bred filly, Allaire is capable of winning another rich race, the 1,400m Dashmesh And Hargobind Stud Million in Mumbai on Thursday. The fact that the Razeen-Fly Vor Baby had covered much ground in the straight, she is expected to relish to slated trip. Aslam Kader partners the Darius Byramji-trainee.


1 pm: Gypsy Moth 1. Share The Spirit 2. Fire Girl 3.

1.30 pm: Picasso 1. Sensational 2. He�s My Dasher 3.

2 pm: Amistad 1. Monte Picaieo 2. Saranyu 3.

2.30 pm: Perfect Strides 1. Bold Of Lightning 2. Soliel 3.

3 pm: Agni Sikha 1. Big Wish 2. Bernadine 3.

3.30 pm: Infamous 1. Aylesfield 2. Oh So Quick 3.

4 pm: Awesome Foursome 1. NorthernTemptress 2. Anagram 3.

4.30 pm: Allaire 1. Prabhuti 2. Starry Scene 3.

5 pm: Hunting Ground 1. Aries Rocket 2. Jeweller 3.

5.30 pm: Uprising 1. Always Up 2. Falconaire 3.

Day�s Best: Agni Sikha Double: Amistad & Allaire    


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