Rain hits India�s opening tie
I�m the religious sort: Badani
Aussie coach impressed with Indian talent

Dhaka, May 30 
Another episode of the rain-hit Asia Cup soap opera came to the fore today, this time to haunt the Indians at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. The thick dark clouds that hovered around before the start had signalled a gloomy end to the fate of India�s opening match.

The thunderstorm that followed left pools of water all around the outfield, forcing the Match Referee to down shutters midway through the hosts� innings. As has been agreed by the two teams, the tie will be continued tomorrow, weather permitting.

It hasn�t rained after stumps were drawn around 5.30 pm today and a scheduled start is likely, only in case of no further rain at night.

The Indians� temporary sigh of relief at the decision was shortlived with news filtering in from the hospital that wicketkeeper Syed Saba Karim has been ruled out of the meet after being struck near the right eye off an Anil Kumble delivery. As Habib-ul Bashar tried to push forward, the ball jumped awkwardly, catching both the batsman and the wicketkeeper offguard.

Sourav Ganguly could take some credit for the Indians� having completed 25 overs and keeping options open for a truncated version, if conditions do not permit the match to go the full distance.

The Indian skipper had sensed the imminent and was rushing through his bowlers. The drizzle had started before the 24th over and as debutant Hemang Badani completed it in a hurry, Sourav grabbed the ball before handing it over to Sunil Joshi to rush through the 25th. The rain, by then, had intensified but Joshi and the Indians never allowed the umpires to halt the proceedings. The groundsmen, all this while, were left waiting with the covers.

With Sri Lanka having already won against Bangladesh yesterday, the Indians badly need to avoid the splitting of points.

The new-look Indian pace attack did look enterprising in their opening burst today. Ajit Agarkar was trying to unsettle the batsmen in the corridor of uncertainty. Thiru Kumaran, who made an unpleasant sight skidding and balancing on all fours on way to his first delivery, relied on pace. At times the batsmen, however, failed to make the most of his wayward line.

That the openers failed to come good, after Amin-ul Islam won the toss, was due to their intensity to play across the line. Javed Omer was undone by pace while Shahriar Hussain failed to keep his cool after going over the top to Agarkar. He picked the wrong line against Kumaran and holed out to mid on.

Habib-ul Bashar and Amin-ul, showed good temperament in adding 68 runs in an unbroken third wicket stand. The introduction of the spinners did make things easier for them. Using their feet they never missed out on the opportunities to pick the gaps on both sides of the wicket. Bashar was the more aggressive, even lifting Joshi for a straight six.

Bangladesh will need more of the patience and attitude shown by these two to harbour hopes of imposing a daunting target on the visitors tomorrow.    

Dhaka, May 30 
The elements marred Hemang Badani�s India debut today, but it is unlikely the 23-year-old�s enthusiasm has taken a beating.

While insisting he felt �great,� this morning, Badani acknowledged he had �gone blank.� Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: �I want to do very well but, besides that, I can�t think of anything...�

Unless the Bangladesh match is washed-out, tomorrow, the interruption could even be a blessing in disguise: Southpaw Badani, whose roots are in Saurashtra but whose family has been in Chennai for years, will get that many more hours to overcome nerves.

Incidentally, Badani�s father Kamal is expected to arrive in the next couple of days. So, the family�s emotional support won�t exactly be long-distance. Badani, a commerce graduate, spoke on the eve of India�s Asia Cup campaign.

Following are excerpts

On his maiden senior India summons

It�s something I worked towards for a number of years. I always believed � yes, had the confidence � that I would make it. It was a matter of time.

On graduating from the colts and India A team

The under-19 series against South Africa, in 1995-96, was specially important. The runs I got against Makhaya Ntini and Mornantau Hayward boosted my confidence in a big way.

On being first named among the 25 (Cup) probables

Saw it as coming one step closer... I knew it was up to me to make the most of the opportunity. I concentrated very hard in whatever I did; didn�t fool around. Don�t think I did anything very different, though... I�m, of course, grateful Paaji (coach Kapil Dev) gave me high marks.

On being picked

The news was conveyed by Sriram (who, like Vinod Kambli, got pipped), my roommate in Pune... It took a few days for the excitement to settle down. However, no matter how many times I get selected, this first call-up will remain special.

On the past three years when he would regularly be talked about, but the call-up never materialised

Didn�t lose heart... Knew I would, some day, get to play. If you�re good enough, you won�t be denied. As I�m the religious sort, I kept faith in God as well.

On those he is indebted to

Robin Singh, Woorkeri Raman... Messrs Swathi and Shyam, my coaches in school... MRF, too.

On his idols

Viv Richards and Paaji. Both were such naturals and so very destructive. Among today�s players I admire Sachin, Sourav and Steve Waugh. Akram as well.

On his hobbies

English movies and western music.

Finally, on the pressure-factor in international cricket

(Laughs) It�s really a state of the mind. If you�re good enough to make it (in the big league), you surely have it in you to deliver.s    

Calcutta, May 30 
Chris Kachel has been in town for four days now. From what he�s seen at the special camp he is conducting at Salt Lake�s Jaidip Mukerjea Tennis Academy, �there is reasonable talent here.�

The chief tennis coach at the high-profile Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) feels that the campers (the country�s second-string and the state�s top juniors) can hit the ball well, are good on discipline and attitude too. �Talking to most of them, the problem seems to be with concentration,� says the 44-year-old Kachel who is being assisted by Jaidip�s brother, Australia-based Chirodeep.

�Maybe, they haven�t had intense training sessions like the one they are being put through here.�

But how much will a one-week programme help the likes of Vishal Uppal, Vijay Kannan and Saurav Panja? �It�s upto them how much they can absorb,� said Kachel. �Even if they can pick up some of the things they are learning here and persist with those, they can register a five percent improvement which will translate to 40 slots on their ranking.�

Refusing to take any name from his Salt Lake camp for special mention, Kachel said: �You never know which junior will develop into a world-beater. Take (Patrick) Rafter�s example. He wasn�t an outstanding athlete in his younger days and didn�t have great results as a junior. But see how he has progressed.�

�Hewitt was different�

Current red-hot Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, he pointed out, was very different. �I knew straightaway after seeing him that here was somebody set for big deeds. He just hated to lose a point and kept slugging away,� said Kachel who has been with AIS for 10 years.

Another AIS product making waves in the men�s game is Mark Philippoussis. �He always had a big game,� Kachel recalled. �His father had a big influence on Mark and told him to keep playing that way rather than develop an all-court game.�

Among girls Kachel has worked with Down Under, �(Jelena) Dokic stood out. When she was below 12, we had her playing with boys,� revealed Kachel whose only previous visit to the city was as reserve player for the 1974 Davis Cup tie at South Club. �Watch out for Alicia Molik also. She�s six-foot-two and hits the ball real hard,� said Kachel, whose best result was a win over Arthur Ashe at the �79 Wimbledon.    


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