Bengal crash out
The guilty must pay the price: Steve Waugh
You make your own destiny: Aussie skipper
Top billing for Dhruv
CC&FC defeat Md. Sp. 2-0
Satisfied Steve vows to come back
Nassiri was sure of success
Spice Boy wins in record time

Thrissur, April 20 
Maharashtra made their sixth entry into the final of the national football championship for the Santosh Trophy here today. The twice champions take on hosts Kerala in the final on Sunday. In the second semi-final of the 56th edition of the meet they beat 29-time champions Bengal with a convincing 3-1 margin.

Manjit Singh put the winners ahead in the 32nd minute before Raman Vijayan pulled it back in the 35th. Bengal initiatives died early, as Naushad Moosa made it 2-1 via a controversial penalty decision in the first minute of the first-half injury time, and substitute Tomba Singh completed the tally in the 86th minute.

Bengal, whatever the weight of their past glory, and whatever reputation that preceded them, lost because they simply did not deserve to win. Their onfield attitude was so utterly unprofessional, their late babbling about an off-side decision that should have been there, sounded hollow. Bengal players were never in the game, and it seemed they never did want to either.

It was a cautious start on either side, and that was expected. But those chinks in the Bengal defence showed early, and grew with each minute. It was on show in the 10th minute itself when Mohammed Najeeb acted on an Aqueel Ansari pass on the right. The entire defence line failed to catch up, and Najeeb was able to position himself well enough to send a fine centre across the goalmouth.

It was a matter of providence that there was nobody there to act upon. It happened two minutes later, again, when Manjit took off from a Basudeb Mondal slip-up, and Prasanta Dora had to tip the volley over.

Those were clear signs ignored by a decidedly complacent and uninvolved team. It was not making them think why they were spending so much time inside their own defensive third of the field. It was not worrying them that despite on some occasions they were not being able to match the Maharashtra attackers in speed. Dipendu Biswas was pulled out and Dipankar Roy was put in, but the team failed to react.

In the 22nd minute Mohammed Najib moved into the box and shot, though into Prasanta. Ten minutes later Abbas Ali Rizvi passed onto Manjit. The latter took a sudden 25-yard volley that went straight in without Prasanta having reacted.

Basudev reacted a bit, but he was probably all that the Bengal halfline compromised. In the 35th minute he shot up the left and into the box, unchallenged. He lobbed across to the right for Raman Vijayan to rise and promptly head home the equaliser.

The surprising part was that even with this easy entry, Bengal did not realise how rickety the Maharashtra defence is too. The equaliser done, Bengal tried to relax a bit instead of keeping up the pressure. That did them in. A minute into the first half injury time Khalid Jamil was up the right, the Bengal defence in tow. Linesman S. Sujauddin did raise the flag for off-side once but quickly drew it down. Jamil was into the box unchallenged and Prasanta dived to collect, dislodging the man in the process. Referee Michael Andrews of Kerala pointed to the dreaded spot without delay. Bengal players contested, asked the linesman about the off-side(and Jamil was surely off-side), but to no avail. Naushad Moosa converted with ease. It, however, remains a mystery how Kerala referee was posted in a match like this.

Dipankar was trying to make up for a lot of Bengal lapses in the second half, forcing the pace at the goalmouth. Unfortunately, his teammates did not look interested in chipping in with initiatives. Not that the Maharashtra initiatives had dried up. A Manjit shot was saved at the last moment by Anit Ghosh in the 51st minute, and Aqueel Ansari was proving to be more than a handful.

On the other side a James Singh lob to the goalmouth, resulting in a Dipankar shot being saved at the goalline by Ramesh Rajak after goalkeeper Virender Shah had failed. Then Basudeb ran out of fuel and was replaced by Chandan Das. Immediately after, a Manjit volley off an Ansari flag-kick came off the upright, denying Maharashtra an even better margin. Bengal�s last chance came in the 37th minute when a Seikh Sanjib shot from 30 yards slipped a diving Virender�s hands but Tapan Ghosh made a goalline save.

If Bengal were thinking of packing up, Maharashtra substitute Tomba Singh was not. In the 86th minute he collected a loose ball and let go an angular grounder that Prasanta failed to collect. The last nail had been hammered into the Bengal coffin.    

Calcutta, April, 20 
Those guilty of match-fixing have to pay the price, contends Steve Waugh. That, he thinks, is essential to clean up the image of the game, tarnished in the wake of the controversy surrounding deposed South African captain Hansie Cronje.

Initially reluctant to satisfy queries on the issue while speaking to the Media at Udayan today, Steve could not avoid being drawn into the topic and ended up saying quite a bit.

�Cricket is known to be a gentleman�s game... probably not at the moment. It�s time we brought it back to where it should be,� he said.

Obviously, he was asked what he thought about the Australian Cricket Board-imposed fines on Mark Waugh and Shane Warne and the Aussie skipper said he didn�t consider their offence to be as damaging as match-fixing.

�They took money for giving information on pitch and weather conditions which commentators also do. And they were penalised for that,� he said.

Though he felt Cronje may have made a mistake, he said he still liked him as a person. �I support him as a human being though I am not in a position to make a judgement. Only the inquiry in South Africa can reveal if he has done anything wrong.

�Everybody makes mistakes. It includes all human beings and not just cricketers. In cricket it started recently and that�s unfortunate,� he said, adding that players should also be more responsible

Steve said it was difficult for the International Cricket Council to punish those guilty as concrete evidence is hard to come by. �Quite a few things are being said, but there is no solid evidence which makes it difficult for the ICC.

�But the cricket boards of all countries should do something and administrators have to take some hard decisions,� he emphasised. �Most cricketers are clean but there are a few who are not. Some players are not doing the right thing and they have to pay the price for that.�    

Calcutta, April 20 
He may be an exemplary cricketer. An outstanding ambassador for the sport, too. But Steve Waugh remains very human.

Like most mortals, he enjoys an ice cream bar (Walls� Paddle Pop, this morning), and failure to contact the family (back in Sydney) does lead to a crease emerging on his forehead.

Of course, Steve is different. Yet, there�s much that is common with so many. He can, therefore, reach out with ease � breaching barriers of language and nationality.

Steve was emotionally drained after a four-hour trip to Udayan (and Nivedita House), and had already fielded a volley of questions at a Media conference. But he still spoke to The Telegraph on the early-afternoon drive back to the city.

Following are excerpts

On whether being just one Test away from equalling the West Indies� all-time record of 11 wins in succession has, more than anything else, put on hold plans to review his future

That�s certainly a motivating factor... Then, I�m enjoying the captaincy, I�m growing into it. That, too, is a motivation... I�m certainly looking forward to the Brisbane Test (first match next season, versus the West Indies), but not too far ahead. Of course I would like to tour India, early next year, but that�s some distance away.

On just how excited is he about next season�s first Test

(Grins) A win will be great for Australian cricket. It will be great for all the players. Obviously, the current team wishes to do great things.

On the significance of records

Well, they are nice to create and possess. However, I�ve always believed the process of getting records is more significant than the end-result. The effort, commitment... The means of getting there.

On whether when it does come about, he will himself give more weightage to the Test record vis-�-vis the one set in ODIs (13 wins on-the-trot)

Look, for those who only play ODIs, no record means more than the one we set in the season just-ended. Similarly, the guys who play Test cricket, won�t look beyond the Test record...

Personally, I do feel it�s harder winning Test matches... Certainly hard winning 10-11 in succession.

On what makes a successful team

(After a pause) A combination of factors, but the key really is communication. We�re honest and open with each other... The lines of communication, across the board, are excellent: Between the coach and players, the administration and the players and between the captain and players.

Communication, then, is one of our strengths.

On whether the law of averages has ever �worried� him

Have never ever cared for such things... Indeed, you make your own destiny. If you work towards putting the right things in place at the right time, you could achieve anything.

On his own form as captain

I think I�ve averaged in excess of 50 in the last ten Tests, all of which we�ve won... In ODIs, the last few months saw me average 35-plus... That�s not bad, is it?

On his captaincy

Today, I�m a lot more relaxed... That we�ve been winning has helped. I back my instincts and, if something unusual needs to be done, I�ll do it. I don�t, after all, worry much about what may have been done in the past.

On Wasim Akram, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara giving up the captaincy

(Grins again) You�ve forgotten Alistair Campbell... Yes, I can understand the demands becoming very heavy. For a cricketer, captaincy is the hardest assignment. So, you�ve got to actually want the job, you�ve got to have that drive. Probably can�t be a long-term job.

On the season just-ended

Terrific. A lot of the guys can now hold their own, both in Tests and ODIs... They�ve matured, they have more faith in their own ability. Self-belief, which is so important, is there. They know, as captain, I�ll back them and the dressing room atmosphere is excellent.

On whether he considers Brett Lee�s emergence as Australia�s top gain of the season

I would say Adam Gilchrist has been our Player of the Season � in Tests and ODIs. Adam has truly been exceptional, taking the team to a new level. Of course, Brett has also been outstanding, So, too, Justin Langer and Damien Martyn.

On the lessons to be learnt after Ricky Ponting�s tragic injury

Cricket is all about commonsense and, unfortunate as Ricky�s injury is, you shouldn�t slide when the hoardings are just two feet from the rope.

On whether life has changed after becoming a World Cup-winning captain

Don�t think it has changed too much. Even though we didn�t play immediately after that, the first few weeks, specially, were very hectic... After that, well, with so much cricket there�s been no time to reflect on that success. In any case, you�ve got to get on in life and can�t live in the past.

On what will his thoughts be on June 20 this year, marking one year of Australia becoming world champions

(Laughs) You won�t find me on a cricket field, that�s for sure. I�ll be on some beach somewhere, taking a break, and cricket definitely won�t be on my mind.

On the legacy he would like to leave

The team should be in even better shape than when I inherited it... Also, I�ll be happy if the traditions and values I cherish are passed on to the next generation of cricketers. In effect, the present-day culture � of staying strong with honour � should be passed on.

On role models

Oh, that�s hard to define. Honestly, I don�t see myself as one... I just see myself as a responsible person. Perhaps high-profile, that�s about it... I treat people the way I would like to be treated.

Finally, whether brother Mark�s revelation (of limited interaction with bookies) embarrassed/hurt him

I felt sad for him... He made a mistake, and has paid very heavily... It wasn�t right but, in the context of what�s going on, it was minor. I�m convinced any (further) inquiry will establish that.    

Calcutta, April 20 
Dhruv Kumar and Priyanka Parekh have been given top billings among boys and girls, respectively, in the under-16 category of the Bengal state mini and sub-junior tennis championships to be played at South Club from April 22 to 29.

R. Vasudevan and K. Fathima Baig are the top seeds in the under-14 section. The meet returns to the state after a gap of more than ten years.

P. Sen Trophy

Mohun Bagan beat Paikpara by 109 runs to enter the semi-final of the P. Sen Trophy today. Chasing a victory target of 266 in 50 overs, Paikpara were all out for 156 in 48.5 overs.    

Calcutta, April 20 
CC&FC beat Mohammedan Sporting 2-0 in group A match of the BHA first division league. B.S. Rawat and Samsher Singh scored. The match between FCI (East Zone) and CESC ended goalless.

Rangers rode goals from Barry Saviel and Cyril Lindsay to beat Jagrihi 2-0 in group B. Muslim Institute defeated Punjab SC 3-2 in another match.    

Calcutta, April 20 
He came, he saw and for a change, he was conquered. To cut a long story short, that was how Steve Waugh reacted after formally inaugurating the girls� wing at Udayan � the home for children of leprosy patients in Barrackpore.

Hundreds thronged the place this morning but the skipper of the mighty Australian team handled everything with the kind of aplomb he demonstrates while tackling the likes of Curtley Ambrose and Allan Donald.

There was, however, an uncharacteristic hint of emotion in his voice when he said it felt nice to see a full-fledged building for girls, the foundation stone of which he had laid on July 21, 1998.

But Steve said it�s not much different from a moment of satisfaction on the cricket field. �It�s quite as good... watching the smile on the face of these kids,� he explained. �It�s nice that girls have got a new home here. I congratulate Reverend James Stevens and Shamlu Dudeja (chairperson, Calcutta Girls� Foundation) and all those involved.�

The girls� wing, opened on August 15 last year, accommodates 40 right now and efforts are on to increase the capacity. The boys� wing provides shelter to 250. Apart from contributing on his own, Steve has helped raise funds by auctioning several cricket souvenirs.

Interestingly, a sizeable part of the total expenses comes from the royalties of books authored by Dominique Lapierre.

To the young residents of Udayan, the Australian skipper seems to be more popular than even the Indian stars and his pictures adorn the walls in one of the halls along with those of Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.

�His name is Steve, he plays cricket and whenever his matches are telecast on Doordarshan, we don�t miss,� chorused a group. �We support Australia even when they play against India,� said some.

They also presented a cultural programme and played a bit of cricket with the Aussie star.

Steve returned every bit of that warmth. �It (Udayan) is a part of my family I guess,� he acknowledged. �It�s a great feeling to be back. The atmosphere here is fantastic and I�m sure it�ll definitely help them become good individuals in the future. The fact that children are getting a chance to make their mark in life is great and it�s great to be part of it. I hope to come back next year and see this place bigger and better.�

Steve added he has plans of extending his involvement and intends coming back with the full Australian team and for fund-raising programmes. �It�s good to see so many kids being taken care of, that�s enough for me to keep coming back. I�ll do whatever I can to help the programme move along.�

It was time for the crowd to be conquered this time.    

Thrissur, April 20 
Maharashtra technical director Jamshed Nassiri said he was pretty confident that his team would win the day versus Bengal in the second semi-final of the 56th Santosh Trophy here today. �I knew it,� he said. �Bengal may be strong, but I had speed on my side, and also more enthusiasm.

Bengal, of course, were busy passing the buck. �Great refereeing�, said coach Sankar Moitra. �How can we play when every act we do is penalised by the referee?� �Wasn�t that an off-side? Was that a penalty at all?� asked. Falguni Dutta. What they could not explain , though, was how did Maharashtra score the other goals and why Bengal could not. And why was it that Maharashtra were the dominant side onfield today and Bengal just the also-rans.

�We had nothing to lose,� said Nasssiri. �So I said lets go all out, and win. That will also be my approach versus Kerala in the final. I intend to tale the trophy away from Kerala beating the hosts.�

Moitra was blaming everybody but his players. They are too dear to his heart to scold. They were too delicate to be reprimanded in public. �The offside and the penalty changed the course of the match,� he explained. That means, that was where Bengal decided to lie down and die.    

The Magansingh P. Jodha-trained four-year-old Spice Boy not only had a comfortable measure of the opposition in 1,400m the Cursetjee Dhunjishaw Trophy, he also stopped the clock at 1 min. 26.4 secs. at the Mumbai races held on Thursday. In the process the Reasonable-Eretna colt eclipsed the course record-time clocked by Columbus early this year on the �all weather track by seven seconds. P. S. Chauhan partnered the winner.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Royal Tern Trophy 1,800: (1-2) El Cid (Gallagher) 2; Sicalade 2. Won by: 8-1/2; (1-55.4 � Record). Tote: Win Rs 13. Fav: El Cid (1).

2. Kartouche Plate 1,400: (1-4-3) Time To Gamble (Daniel) 1; Budapest 2; Monte Picaieo 3. Won by: 3-1/4; Dist; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 30; Place: 17; 29; Quinella: 74; Tan-ala: 589. Fav: Time To Gamble (1).

3. Dancing Lord Plate, Div-II 1,000m: (4-5-1) Fantasy (Rupesh) 1; Infamous 2; Abandoned 3. Won by: 7; 7-1/2; (1-1.5). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 11; 18; Quinella: 19; Tanala: 118. Fav: Fantasy (4).

4. Rising Flame Plate 1,200m: (5-7-2) Sacred Fire (Z. Sayyed) 1; Navroze Supreme 2; Whispering Rock 3. Won by: 2-1/4; Hd; (1-15.3). Tote: Win Rs 75; Place: 22; 12; 27; Quinella: 90; Tanala: 1,101. Fav: Navroze Supreme (7).

5. Cursetjee Dhunjishaw Trophy 1,400m: (3-2-6) Spice Boy (Chauhan) 1; Merry Lea 2; Leit Motif 3. Won by: 2-1/2; 4-1/2; (1-26.4 �Record). Tote: Win Rs 29; Place: 12; 18; 19; Quinella: 68; Tanala: 423. Fav: Spice Boy (3).

6. Dancing Lord Plate, Div-I 1,000m: (7-5-4) Queen Of Roman-ce (S. Chinoy) 1; Boldwin 2; Shanillo 3. Won by: 3/4; 1-3/4; (1-3.2). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 11; 18; 22; Quine-lla: 36; Tanala: 333. Fav: Boldwin (5).

7. Thunder Shower Plate 1,000m: (1-6-5) Arabian Fighter (I. Shaikh) 1; Rumaan 2; Future Shines 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 2-1/2; (1-1.8). Tote: Win Rs 21; Place: 11; 18; 21; Quinella: 50; Tanala: 221. Fav: Arabian Fighter (1).

Jackpot: Rs 920; (C) Rs 154.

Treble: (i) Rs 245; (ii) Rs 105.    


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