Fantastic chase sees India go one-up
Jadeja�s best shot at first go
Panja enters semi-finals
One change in Bengal XIV
Inglenook for Arundhati Cup
Grey Test wins

Kochi, March 9 
SA 301/3 (50 ovs) India 302/7 (49.4 0vs) MoM: Jadeja The glint in Sourav Ganguly�s eyes was enough to suggest the satisfaction that success had brought in his maiden match as captain. What had looked like going out of India�s hands at one stage was made possible by the superb efforts of Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh.

It, however, would not be wise to draw any immediate conclusion from this three-wicket victory, since in the past such brilliant efforts have often turned out to be a one-off affair. With four matches still to go, the series is still wide open and given their track record, South Africa have a fair chance of bouncing back. As Sourav Ganguly said later, caution and not complacency is hence the buzzword for the Indians.

The credit should entirely go to Jadeja (92 off 109 balls, 8x4, 3x6) and Robin (42 not out off 43 balls, 2x4), who with their 92-run stand for the sixth wicket in 72 balls took the match away from the grasp of the thoroughly professional South Africans.

Their partnership put in shade the record 235-run opening association between Gary Kirsten (115) and Herschelle Gibbs (111) which had helped the visitors achieve the awesome 301 run total.

Today�s three-wicket victory was only the second instance that India had successfully chased a 300-above score. The only other time was against Pakistan in the deciding final of the Independence Cup in Dhaka in January 1998.

Often have such close matches been thrown away at peril by the Indians but Robin and Anil Kumble kept their cool in the end under pressure despite the confusion over the winning run which forced a near 25-minute stoppage.

The Indians had looked positive from the start as the team discovered what it means to play as a unit. Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar were forthcoming with suggestions during the South Africa run riot in the morning and then the captain himself chose to rule by setting examples.

Sourav picked up three boundaries, square of the wicket on the off side in the opening over from Shaun Pollock to set the tone for the chase.

His 31 off 28 balls had helped India achieve the six-run-an-over target early. The India captain was so ferocious on the off-side that it forced Cronje to have a double covering there. But once Pollock induced Sourav to snick one behind � the decision, however, left him unhappy � it appeared the initiative would be lost.

Sachin and Rahul Dravid and then Sunil Joshi, promoted as a pinch hitter, carried on the good work but their quick dismissals did make the job of late-order difficult. Once Mohammed Azharuddin and Jadeja took charge, it was a matter of consolidation before going on the offensive.

They were concentrating on singles while working the odd ball to the fence. But the introduction of the spinners led open the floodgates. Azhar lifted Nicky Boje over extra cover for a huge six and then smashed Gibbs over his head for a boundary. The introduction of Jacques Kallis led to Azhar�s departure but by then the pair had put on 79 runs.

It was the perfect opportunity for Jadeja to cut loose. he had got used to the bounce and the pace and the arrival of Robin meant that running between wickets would be at a brisk pace. Jadeja was batting like a man possessed, severe on anything pitched short or up. The spinners were hammered mercilessly with Derek Crookes being the worst sufferer. Two sixes came in successive Crookes overs.

Even Hayward found the going tough. He was hit for a straight six after Gibbs dropped Jadeja at gully. It proved costly as Jadeja�s exit at that stage would have tilted the scales in the visitors� favour.

Cronje had his revenge after being carted for two boundaries in one over.

Robin, who had been a mere spectator while Jadeja was on the rampage, took charge after the latter departed. With some support from the other end, the left-hander made the task look easy in the end.

The South Africans knew that the first 15 overs were going to be crucial on sub-continent pitches. The openers went about their task in the morning in a well-calculated manner, taking full advantage of the field restrictions and the inexperienced new-ball attack.

Gibbs was the more flamboyant partner, making his intentions clear with 16 runs in the third over of the innings. Runs came in a heap as Kirsten, too, joined in the run-feast. The pair put on 105 in the first 15 overs, and even the early introduction of Kumble and Joshi failed to check the flow.

Only when Sachin came into the attack did the visitors find the going a bit tough. His cocktail of deliveries left the batsmen guessing. He was getting the ball to turn and jump off a good length, making things even difficult.

Sachin found an unexpected ally in Dravid who returned the best figures (two for 44).

Dravid was adhering to a fixed line and, by varying the length, he often forced batsmen to play the ball in the air. Klusener was foxed by one such delivery.    

Calcutta, March 9 
Just over a fortnight ago, Ajay Jadeja cut a forlorn figure at The Taj in Mumbai.

The previous evening, Jadeja finished an also-ran in the captaincy race, besides finding himself out of the XIV for the Bangalore Test.

Sourav Ganguly beat him hands down on the first count; young Mohammed Kaif (again) was preferred on the second.

It was a telling double-blow, taking all the exuberance out of Jadeja. Yet, he promised to give his �best shot� at the first opportunity.

�I�ll continue to play the way I do... I�m always involved... Sourav will do a good job,� is what Jadeja said, sportingly and sincerely.

When it was pointed out that opportunity No. 1 for the �best shot� would surely be in Kochi, Jadeja�s response had been a deadly serious: �If I�m picked...�

Of course, The Telegraph had to remind him that (the then) captain-designate Sourav, like Sachin Tendulkar, rated him �indispensable� (in ODIs).

Jadeja did smile, but didn�t comment.

After his experience at the turn of the Millennium � when the Board declared him unfit even though the much-respected Dr Mark Ferguson found him fit to play � one could hardly fault Jadeja for being cynical.

In fact, the Board move which kept Jadeja out of the Carlton and United Series in Australia had the makings of a scam. The Board, though, got away.

Inexplicably, it didn�t think twice about fielding Jadeja in the Wills Trophy at home (coinciding with the start of the Series in Australia). Yet, when it came to putting him on the flight to Sydney/Brisbane, an entirely different yardstick was followed.

Nobody may admit it, but it was one way of �settling� scores with coach Kapil Dev, Jadeja�s mentor.

Indian cricket, in the process, took a beating. If somebody wasn�t convinced then, he would have been after Jadeja�s superb 92 this afternoon.

Sachin and Kapil had done everything but beg that Jadeja be sent across. But the powers-that-be (as reported in these columns) were firm Mohammed Azharuddin too would have to go.

The �package� got rejected � actually, Azhar has also proved a point, but to different people � and we were left swallowing seven defeats in eight matches.

Any debate on just how different Indian cricket would be, had that �package� been accepted (or not insisted upon), will be endless.

Bottomline, however, is there are lessons to learn: for the Board, yes, but others as well.

Azhar will insist he gave it all in trying to avert an innings defeat in Bangalore. Jadeja, or �Guruji�, as some have begun to address him, may well talk of his Kochi-mantra.

Nobody will complain if the �points� scored eventually total a perfect-10 for India. Certainly not Sourav.    

Calcutta, March 9 
Saurav Panja made the semi-finals of the Indian Oil-Servo senior national grasscourt championships, turning his match against Nitin Kirtane on its head at the CC&FC this morning.

With Panja holding serve just once in the first set, the second-seeded Nitin looked set for a cakewalk. Came the second set, and the local boy was in a different mood, pressurising the southpaw a great deal. Two service-breaks gave Panja the second set.

The decider was a tense affair, with both men committing mistakes aplenty. After trading four breaks, eighth seed Panja finally closed out the match capturing Kirtane�s serve on love in the 10th game.

Top seed Syed Fazaluddin was in slick form, dismissing Vasudev Reddy 6-2, 6-3. No. 5 Vishal Uppal tossed out fourth seed and his doubles partner Mustafa Ghouse 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Completing the semi-final line-up was sixth seed Vijay Kannan who beat Rishi Sridhar in straight sets.

In the ladies� quarter finals, young Radhika Tulpule toppled second seed Rushmi Chakravarthi 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-0). Top seed Sai Jayalakshmi almost met the same fate, scraping through 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5) against Karishma Patel.

The Venkatraman sisters, Arthi and Archana, cruised into the last four whipping S.K. Tara and Liza Pereira.    

Calcutta, March 9 
The Bengal team for the last Super League Ranji Trophy match versus Mumbai, to be held here from March 13, sees only one change in the XIV.

State selectors deliberated for over an hour, bringing in wicket-keeper batsman Deep Das Gupta in place of Nilambar Saha.    

Bangalore, March 9 
Winner of the winter 1,000 Guineas and also third in the Hyderabad Derby, Inglenook, looks a good thing in the 1,600m Arundhati Cup, tomorrow�s main attraction. Although giving weight all round, the well prepared Rashid Byramji-trainee with Aslam Kader as her partner, may not disappoint.


2.30 pm: Just Do It 1. Soviet Bay 2. Star Wings 3.

3 pm: Chanel 1. Renzino 2. Al Dente 3.

3.30 pm: Beat The Dust 1. Turn My Luck 2. Gallant Monarch 3.

4 pm: Inglenook 1. Astronautics 2. Menlo Park 3.

4.30 pm: Nooreen 1. Sir Winmor 2. Glass Slipper 3.

5 pm: Power Extreme 1. Innerleithen 2. Solo Spirit 3.

5.30 pm: Contour 1. Mayfair 2. Silver Hope 3.

Day�s Best: Just Do It

Double: Chanel & Beat The Dust    

Riding a well-judged race on a lesser fancied Grey Test, Malcom Kharadi partnered the Subhag Singh trainee to an exciting three parts of a length victory over Run For Glory in the 1,600m Amazing BayTrophy at the Mumbai races on Thursday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Hadeer Plate 1,000m: (2-3-6) Luni Junction (Chauhan) 1; Victory Tune 2; Perfect Strides 3. Won by: 1/2; 2; (1-1.6). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 15; Quinella: 20; Tanala: 103. Fav: Victory Tune (3).

2. Jayant M. Shah Plate 1,000m: (6-1-5) Fortune Cookie (Rajendra) 1; Star Music 2; San Carios 3. Won by: 3/4; SH; (1-1.4). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 11; 11; 41; Quinella: 19; Tanala: 194. Fav: Fortune Cookie (6). (Note: There was a stewards inquiry into the running of the race).

3. Scarlet O�hara Plate 1,400m: (7-5-4) Right Arrow (Gallagher) 1; Stellar Love 2; Bolt Of Lightning 3. Won by: SH; 2-3/4; (1-28.6). Tote: Win Rs 33; Place: 14; 18; 16; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 376. Fav: Right Arrow (7).

4. Amazing Bay Trophy 1,600m: (9-2-3) Grey Test (Kharadi) 1; Run For Glory 2; Noble One 3. Won by: 3/4; 1/2; (1-40). Tote: Win Rs 60; Place: 17; 17; 20; Quinella: 126; Tanala: 970. Fav: Legendary Lover (4).

5. Tiger Lily Plate 1,600m: (4-8-3) Moment Of Truth (Rajendra) 1; Flensburg 2; Maaboud 3. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/4; (1-41.2). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 12; 16; 14; Quinella: 51; Tanala: 167. Fav: Moment Of Truth (4).

6. S. A. Wahid Plate 1,000m: (1-7-10) Draculla (Shelar) 1; Temple Quest 2; Rebel Countess 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-2). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 10; 96; 18; Quinella: 981; Tanala: 6,340. Fav: Draculla (1).

7. H. F. Chard Plate 1,400m: (3-7-10) Leit Motif (Aadesh) 1; Backburn Rocket 2; Beat The Blues 3. Won by: 4-1/4; 3; (1-27.1). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 12; 16; 208; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 1,568. Fav: Leit Motif (3).

Jackpot: Rs 1,597; (C) Rs 311.

Treble: (i) Rs 614; (ii) Rs 94.    


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