India eye 1st win at Keenan
Move to extend Cronje innings
Maiden titles for Fazaluddin, Radhika
Bagan close in on title with 3-0 win
Kapil flays scheduling
Baffin Bay may strike again
Allocated wins

Jamshedpur, March 11 
Is Kochi the big turnaround? After the demoralising run of pathetic performances, Thursday�s grand chase in the sultry summer heat of Kerala has left every Indian cricket fan hoping it is.

Tomorrow, on another flat track at the Keenan Stadium, we should get a more definite answer.

For the Indians, it was not so much the losses that presented them in poor light as the manner in which they lost. So often they had come away without so much as a fight. So often they have looked a collection of individuals without looking a team.

Did Kochi change all that?

The most significant aspect of the three-wicket win was that it did not come riding piggy-back on one or two players, but took real �team effort� to get there. There is nothing like a win to bring back confidence, but when it comes with almost everyone playing a significant part, you suddenly have a fighting unit. You suddenly have �a team�.

As skipper Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Ajay Jadeja and Mohammed Azharuddin strode out together for a joint-inspection and assessment of the pitch during nets this afternoon, it was almost as if they were also making a joint statement on behalf of the team.

Sourav tempered the bubbly enthusiasm this evening with �there�s a lot of cricket left in this series�, and Hansie Cronje too was also quick to point that out later, but both skippers probably realise that this is where they will have to grab the initiative. A win for India will again leave them looking the �tigers at home� that most visiting teams over the years have come to believe they are, while one for South Africa will then regain the control they had after those convincing Test victories.

For India, it will be important to show the sort of character they did at Kochi, where everyone tried to respond as per the situation and believed they could win.

There were, of course, the rough edges � none more than the wicketkeeping of Samir Dighe � but Sourav was quick to jump to his defence. �Everyone can have a bad day. Even the best batsmen get out for ducks.�

The South Africans are a stubborn lot, and are sure to come charging back. As skipper Cronje pointed out, they �didn�t play a bad game at Kochi.�

�It�s just that we lost, and we fancy our chances tomorrow,� he added. Cronje, however, was �not happy with the way we bowled and fielded at times�. If they were contemplating a little tinkering with the team, he was not about to announce it. �We�ll be able to tell you only before the match,� Cronje said.

The cornerstone of the South African attack will, of course, be pace and Mornantau Hayward will again be the man to watch for the Indians on a wicket which should have appreciable bounce, especially in the initial stages. South Africa, already hamstrung because of Lance Klusener�s inability to bowl, were struck another blow when Jacques Kallis hurt his right wrist.

Cronje indicated the South Africans were still keen to play him, but the injury may well hamper his bowling.

The Indians too have decided to announce the playing eleven just before the toss, but indications are they will go in with the �winning combination.�

The wicket is as hard as rock, and looks full of runs. It is, however, without its customary �shine� and could well take appreciable turn in the second half. Kochin saw Sourav can upon the off-spin of Rahul Dravid. The Indian skipper could again be forced to rely on Dravid and Sachin to play a big part as bowlers. Batsmen are likely to feast upon medium-pacers on this wicket, especially in the morning session.

It will be a good toss to win.

With its flat strip, short boundaries and quick outfield (the organisers could have shorn a little more of the grass though), the Keenan Stadium has always demanded discipline from the bowlers. It�s here that the visitors hold an edge. Ajit Agarkar & Co. will have to quickly learn to not spray the ball all over, especially in the first 15 overs.

In a tall-scoring match, and it�s usually been that way here, the top-order will again have to deliver the momentum. With Azhar, Jadeja and Robin Singh in good form, even a steep run-rate will not look �impossible� anymore. The Indians are not going to catch up with the South Africans where fielding is concerned, so they will have to make sure they excel in the other departments.

The Indians have never won a match at the Keenan, but don�t bother telling Sourav that. �That can always be changed, can�t it?� he said when someone drew his attention to that slice of statistics today.    

Calcutta, March 11 
For South Africa, April 16 will mark the end of a hectic � and, going by form, successful � season.

It will also see the �end� of Hansie Cronje�s innings as captain. His appointment, after all, is only till the home-leg (three matches) of the six-game limited overs series versus Australia.

The remaining three matches will be played indoors, in Melbourne, between August 16-20. Immediately after that is the tri-series in Singapore.

Logically, Cronje ought to have been appointed till at least August 20. But the selectors, headed by Rushdie Magiet, the first non-White chief selector, thought otherwise.

In fact at the start of the 1999-2000 season, Magiet and his colleagues (including Mike Procter and Kepler Wessels) even put Cronje on trial by retaining him only for the first two Tests against England.

Magiet and Co. did extend Cronje�s appointment (till April 16), but their initial move not just stunned the cricket fraternity, some amount of �bad blood� too must have been generated.

Cronje, it may be recalled, �responded� by revealing plans to coach Glamorgan. Eventually, it was left to Dr Ali Bacher, the Board supremo, to talk Cronje out of what must have been a very lucrative deal.

Dr Bacher is all set to again take the initiative.

A few weeks ago, he took the lead in persuading Allan Donald to make himself available for the just-ended Test series. Now, Dr Bacher is embarking on a more sensitive assignment.

Speaking to The Telegraph from Cape Town, where he is vacationing, Dr Bacher announced he would �sit down� with Cronje and Magiet, at the end of the season, to �discuss� the former�s future.

�Cronje continues to do a fantastic job and, as I see it, South African cricket needs Cronje to be around for some years... I will, of course, be making that known at the proposed meeting,� Dr Bacher said.

Even if some may not think much about Cronje as captain � though his record is simply phenomenal: 27 wins (11 losses) in 53 Tests; 94 victories (32 defeats) in 130 ODIs � Dr Bacher does realise South Africa have been fortunate.

Cronje�s form, at the moment, isn�t headline-making. But even a Mark Taylor went through the same phase. In any case, Cronje�s biggest contribution hasn�t always been with the bat.

Actually, Cronje has been the perfect ambassador for South Africa. And, within the team, he has already played the role enacted by the late Sir Frank Worrell and Clive Lloyd in the West Indies.

In other words, despite the odd suggestion to the contrary, Cronje has done his bit in the assimilation of non-Whites.

�Yes, merit should be the consideration. Yet, at the same time, there will be occasions when you have to nurture talent... I�ve always been firm nobody should be judged on the colour of his skin.

�Indeed, when we take the field, we do so as equals. Not as Blacks or Whites,� had been Cronje�s observation in an exclusive chat during the Test series.

During the same conversation, Cronje�s response to having been put on trial was, typically, sporting.

It�s possible, though, Cronje could engage in some (justified) plain-speaking at the meeting planned by Dr Bacher.

Incidentally, while vice-captain Shaun Pollock is the obvious Cronje successor, in the short-term, a dark horse in-the-making is probably Dale Benkenstein.    

Calcutta, March 11 
Men�s top seed Syed Fazaluddin justified his billing with some booming serves while women�s No. 1 Sai Jayalakshmi paid the price for committing crucial double-faults in the finals of the Indian Oil-Servo senior national grasscourt championships at the CC & FC today.

Fazal quelled Vijay Kannan�s challenge 6-4, 6-4 to earn his first national crown. Sai went down 4-6, 6-4, 5-7 to Pune youngster Radhika Tulpule after an up-and-down tussle that lasted 110 minutes. Tulpule thus completed a double.

The men�s final saw both players adopting similar serve-and-charge strategy. Fazal prevailed with a higher first-serve percentage and some crisp backhand volleys. He produced three aces in the second game of the opener which was an indication of the shape of things to come. Fazal hit ten aces in all. Kannan served five, but Fazal was too hot for the sixth seed. Fazal broke Kannan in the fifth game of the opening set and in the third game of the second.

Earlier, Tulpule took full advantage of some double-faults at crucial junctures and overcame nerves in the decider to clinch her maiden senior title.

Sai struggled with her service and double-faulted twice in the third game of the opener which cost her the set. She got back her rhythm in the second and started whipping forehand drives. Tulpule wilted under pressure and conceded the set.

Sai maintained the tempo in the decider and forced a break in the first game. A disputed line-call gave Tulpule a break-point in the fourth game but an overambitious lob negated that advantage. Undeterred, the 18-year-old slipped in a forehand and followed it up with a service return to break back.

Tulpule broke Sai again in the sixth game and had a chance of serving out the match in the ninth game when she succumbed to the pressure and dropped serve at love. That left Sai with an opportunity to force a tie-break but she double-faulted twice in the 12th game which proved decisive.

Top seeds Saurav Panja and Nitin Kirtane beat Vishal Uppal and Mustafa Ghouse 6-4, 6-2 to the doubles crown.    

Calcutta, March 11 
Mohun Bagan dismissed State Bank of Travancore (SBT) 3-0 in Thiruvananthapuram today to move within hand-shaking distance of the coveted Coca-Cola National Football League crown.

According to information received here, the Calcutta giants took the lead through Igor Shkvirin in the 10th minute of a scrappy opening session.

The second half saw the title-contenders in better light. They combined better and created several opportunities from which they converted two.

Basudeb Mondal scored midway through the second session. Uzbek Igor completed the tally minutes before the final whistle.

Mohun Bagan now have 43 points from 20 matches. They take on East Bengal on March 22 and Tollygunge Agragami on March 26 to complete their engagements.

In Bangalore, ITI gear up for their last match at home against Churchill Brothers tomorrow, adds PTI. Churchill Brothers are placed second in the league table with 35 points in 18 matches, while ITI needs a win badly to retain their position and remain safe in the league.

The local outfit are in the 10th place in the league table with 14 points in 19 matches. Apart from tomorrow�s match, they have two more to go, against SBT and BSF.

ITI have won against Tollygunge and F C Kochin in the 10 matches they played at home.

Churchill Brothers forwards, Francis Silveira, Marcus Carvalho, Andriy and Malchevsky, are in full form. ITI defence will be hard-pressed to stop them.

ITI will miss Ilyas Pasha, who was injured during the FC Kochin match.    

Jamshedpur, March 11 
Hansie Cronje played the good ambassador, but Kapil Dev was in no mood for it. Not after all the travelling, and another session at the nets with his wards.

�Whoever�s done it, hasn�t done a good job,� the Indian coach snapped back when asked about the schedule for the ongoing five-match one-day series against South Africa. �It�s very poorly arranged.� He promised to take up the matter with the Board.

It was evident everyone on the cricket bandwagon was feeling the heat, quite literally.

The two teams opened the one-day series with Thursday�s match in the sapping heat of Kochi which left several players dehydrated and forced some of them to take the drip to recover. Among them was Robin Singh, one of the heroes of the victory charge.

The two teams had to take a flight to Mumbai the same evening, and then the long flight to Calcutta last evening. They arrived in Jamshedpur in batches as the Dornear aircraft that flies between here and Calcutta is a 15-seater.

Cronje was, of course, ready to see the other side.

�I don�t think you can schedule one-day matches any differently. Obiously you try and schedule them in as many matches as possible,� said the South Africa captain. �So you can�t blame the organisers. The players understand. We know it�s been a long trek from Kochi, but we are certainly prepared for it.�

When drawn to the last-over farce at Kochi, he said: �When you are playing 600 deliveries in a one-day game, one event should not change the course of a game. The umpires can make the odd mistake, and it goes both ways. You cannot blame umpires for defeats. We�ve past that stage in our cricket.�

He did make a point on the appointments, saying that at least one umpire, either on the field or in the TV room, should be from the international panel � even if he is from the home country.    

Although hard-pressed to win his previous start, an improved Baffin Bay may notch up another win in the 1,400m HSBC Salver at the Mumbai race on Sunday. Aslam Kader partners the Darius Byramji-trainee.


2.50 pm: Victory March 1.

3.20 pm: Double Impact 1. Champagne Polka 2.

4 pm: Avalanche 1. Silver Rock 2. Pyramid Power 3.

4.30 pm: Baffin Bay 1. Count The Steps 2. Placid 3.

5 pm: Victory Waltz 1. Dressed For Dinner 2. Loaded Dice 3.

5.30 pm: Infuriate 1. Mister Money 2. Declaration Of Love 3.

6 pm: Clive Commission 1. Airkraft 2. Gold Buck 3.

Day�s Best: Double Impact Double: Baffin Bay & Infuriate    

Partnered by Pesi Shroff, Allocated won the Nanoli Stud Bangalore Jevenile Million in Bangalore on Saturday. R. Byramji trained the winner.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Hiriyur Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (6-2-1) Deep In The Jungle (Gallagher) 1; At My Command 2; Comedy Of Errors 3. Won by: 3-3/4; 3-1/4; (1-15.6). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 13; 28; Quinella: 21; Tanala: 117. Fav: Deep In The Jungle (6).

2. Hiriyur Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (6-3-8) Altimara (Kader) 1; Al Habib 2; Scenic 3. Won by: 6; 3-1/4; (1-15.6). Tote: Win Rs 50; Place: 17; 76; 11; Quinella: 1,279; Tanala: 5,018. Fav: Scenic (8).

3. Udipi Cup 1,600m: (5-6-2/8) Cassini (Shafiq) 1; Galleon De Espania 2; Our Paradise & Great Prince 3. Won by: 1/2; 1/2; D-H; (1-42.8). Tote: Win Rs 79; Place: 27; 30; 14 (on Our Paradise); 9 (on Great Prince); Quinella: 170; Tanala: 677. Fav: Great Prince (8).

4. Nanoli Stud Bangalore Juvenile Million 1,400m: (1-8-9) Allocated (Shroff) 1; Symphony Of Fire 2; Adamile 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-3/4; (1-27.3). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 26; 67; Quinella: 60; Tanala: 1,197. Fav: Allocated (1).

5. Ilkal Plate 1,100m: (5-1-6) Native Tactics (Kader) 1; Akasaka 2; Amalgamate 3. Won by: 4; 5; (1-8.6). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 14; 14; 30; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 247. Fav: Akasaka (1).

6. Tungabhadra Plate 1,400m: (10-8-12) Kass (Gallagher) 1; Regal Wind 2; Love And Honor 3. Won by: 3; 2-1/2; (1-28.2). Tote: Win Rs 31; Place: 14; 65; 24; Quinella: 485; Tanala: 5,407. Fav: Kass (10).

7. Doddaballapur Plate 1,200m: (1-8-2) Crown Ivory (Paswan) 1; Speedy Idea 2; Formal Gold 3. Won by: 4; 3; (1-17.3). Tote: Win Rs 32; Place: 16; 18; 22; Quinella: 80; Tanala: 506. Fav: Crown Ivory (1).

Jackpot: Rs 1,636; (C) Rs 181.

Treble: (i) Rs 270; (ii) Rs 247.


1,000m: Jayaashva (Razzak) in 1-11 1/5s; (400m) 28s. Good.

800m: The Stud (Shanker) and Whitney (Brij S.) in 53 3/5s; (400m) 26s. Former 2 ls better, note. Cyber Freak (Rb) in 52 2/5s; (400m) 27 1/5s. Moved well. Allodium (Islam) and Charlene (M. Reuben) in 54 3/5; (400m) 27s. Former a length better, both moved well. Aileron (Islam) and Avionic (Rabani) in 55 2/5s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Both level and moved well. Friendly Knight (Bird) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Easy. Garden Of Heaven (Amjad K.) in 56s; (400m) 29s. Easy. Storm Centre (Engineer) in 56 3/5s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Master Charlie (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 29s.

600m: Prodigious (Rb) 42 1/5s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

800m: Software (Rb) in 52s; (400m) 23 3/5s. Moved well. Golden Heart (Rb) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Strictly Royal (Rb) in 56 2/5s; (400m) 25s.    


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