Involve the captain in picking probables as well:
National Open from Monday
City trio for meet
India may field all newcomers
48 hour respite for turf clubs
Perceived Value downs Allocated

Nairobi, Oct. 2: 
Bouquets from well-wishers. Bats and gloves... At first glance, captain Sourav Ganguly�s hotel room appears no different from that of the others. A closer look, though, reveals the presence of a VCP. That is uncommon.

Procuring a VCP was a top Sourav priority on landing here and, once the Kenya match is over, cassettes of the last set of the India-Australia games (earlier this year) will be �studied.� Match No. 2 in the ICC KnockOut Kenya 2000 meet will, after all, be against the world champions.

Clearly, Sourav realises just how crucial that game will be. Yet, while speaking to The Telegraph this morning, he insisted Indian cricket shouldn�t only be judged by the performance in the tournament here.

Following are excerpts

On his thoughts on the eve of the start of a fresh season

I�m hopeful. Also, I have high expectations from the youngsters who have made the squad. They are talented; they look good.

On the �resting� of three players, including two seniors

It�s the Board�s decision. As captain, then, I shouldn�t comment.

On whether the captain should also be involved in the selection of probables, not only the final XIV or XV

Absolutely. In fact the coach, too, should have a say at all stages. Frankly, I don�t see why there should be a problem in involving the captain and coach. After all, everyone concerned can only have one agenda: Pick the winning combination. We�re all grown-up, aren�t we (so, there won�t be ego hassles)?

On just how important is the KnockOut meet for India/i>

Of course, it�s a big tournament. At the same time, Indian cricket shouldn�t only be judged by our performance in Nairobi. It should be noted we�ve come here with a relatively inexperienced side and, when you have a clutch of youngsters, it�s only fair not to expect too much overnight... We�re in the midst of a re-building phase and, so, chopping-and-changing must not hold centrestage � the youngsters have to be given confidence.

On the relevance of knockout competitions, such as the one getting underway tomorrow

Despite travelling thousands of miles, some teams will return home after just one match... Yes, that�s a bit odd. But, then, there�s no way out if you want to finish a mega-event in a fortnight. Ideally, there must be two groups where the round-robin format operates.

On whether it�s more difficult finalising strategy when it becomes a game-by-game existence

(Smiles) Actually, I prefer it this way. Get past one team and, then, focus on the next.

On whether Aunshuman Gaekwad being only a stop-gap coach puts him, as captain, under more pressure

(After a pause) Again, it�s best that I don�t comment. It�s the Board�s decision and one goes along with what is laid out. Obviously, these are difficult times for our cricket and the need of the hour, so to say, is to be consistent. This applies to everybody � the players, selectors, the Board...

On his message to the team

Work hard and aim to deliver.

On whether he is upset that not many are giving India much of a chance to put it across Australia in round-II (the quarter finals), once the Kenya-hurdle is crossed

All I�ll say, now, is that no team is unbeatable.

On whether the players are aware of the amendments to the laws (in operation from yesterday), specifically the bit about the five-run penalty for, among other things, sledging

Yes. Where I�m concerned, I�m happy as long as cricket is played hard and fair.

Finally, on the gains from a full season with Lancashire � even though he didn�t get a Championship hundred

While I didn�t do as well as I should have, I didn�t fare badly either... The biggest plus will remain exposure, for months on end, to different conditions. Physically, I�ve definitely emerged stronger. Overall, I�m today a better cricketer. Having gone through the grind, I won�t be tempted by another County offer but, at the same time, this one summer was worth it.    

Calcutta, Oct. 2: 
With unpleasant memories of yet another disastrous Olympic campaign still fresh in mind, Indian athletes will once more vie for national honours in the 40th National Open Athletic meet at Salt Lake Stadium from October 9 to 11.

Almost all of them performed well below their personal best, still, the likes of Shakti Singh, Neelam J. Singh and Sanjay Rai are expected to be around when nearly 550 athletes descend on the city for one of the most important track and field meets in the country.

India�s sole �performer� in athletics at Sydney, K.M. Beenamol, is unlikely to take part. She, however, will be invited and may be felicitated during the event.

Defending men�s and women�s champions, Railways, are expected to field the biggest contingent and the list they have already sent includes top guns like Rachita Mistry, Rosa Kutty, G.G. Pramila apart from former Bengal stars Saraswati Dey and Debi Bose.    

Calcutta, Oct. 2: 
The city trio of Mohun Bagan, Tollygunge Agragami and Mohammedan Sporting will take part in the Sikkim Governor�s Gold Cup to be played from October 11 to 24.

Sixteen teams will take part in the knockout meet of which 14 have confirmed participation. Mahindra and Mahindra and Indian Bank will be there if the ir travel plans are finalised in time.

Apart from the Calcutta trio, the teams certain to take part are Air India, Kerala Police, Gorkha Brigade, Mahindra Police (Nepal), Bhutan XI, Manipur XI, Sikkim Red, Sikkim Blue, Bangladesh Army, BSF (Jalandhar) and Services.

Titles for Zaman, Ragini

Sanzaruz Zaman beat Saif Ali 6-1, 6-1 in the men�s singles final of the Calcutta Hard Court tennis meet at South Club yesterday. Ragini Vimal beat Soma Banerjee 6-0, 6-1 in the women�s final.


,b>BOYS U-12: Karan Dhillon bt Biplab Das 6-4, 6-1;

U-14: Rupesh Roy bt Sabyasachi Bose 6-2, 6-1;

U-16: Rupesh Roy bt Indradeep Mitra 6-3, 6-0.

GIRLS U-18: Ragini Vimal bt Sharmishtha Chowdhury 6-0, 6-1.    

Nairobi, Oct. 2: 
The �purge� is over. For Indian cricket, it�s time to look ahead; to hope that the Yuvraj Singhs and Zaheer Khans can complement the efforts of a Sachin Tendulkar.

As the ICC KnockOut Kenya 2000 draw has unfolded, step No. 1 shouldn�t be too demanding for India. For, effectively, the hosts will largely be looking to gain experience in the tournament-opener tomorrow, though Sourav Ganguly isn�t taking anything for granted.

�This game is one big leveller... It has pulled down even the greatest of teams. In any case, the format is such that each match is like a final: Advance if you win, or else go home,� the Indian captain remarked during a short break at the afternoon nets.

As for the Kenyans their task, as usual, is cut out. In fact coach Sandeep Patil, the flamboyant ex-India star, candidly acknowledged: �It�s going to take a mammoth effort to put it across India... Really, it�s got to be something out of the ordinary.�

For that, however, Kenya just don�t have the ammunition. Nor the experience � the entire squad has played 255 ODIs, while Sachin alone has made 249 appearances. Moreover, it�s too much to expect a repeat of Gwalior (May, 1998). Certainly not when the team goes a whole year without featuring in a single ODI.

In recent months, the Kenyans have played Pakistan A, Karnataka (sans Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble) and the South African Academy XI. Decent competition during the off-season, yes, but hardly the ideal build-up to what has been billed the mini-World Cup.

The ICC is on over-drive where raising funds is concerned, but it needs to quickly address the imbalance is other spheres. Of course, that�s another story...

Back to the KnockOut-opener, indications are India will cap all three rookies: Yuvraj, Zaheer and wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya. They are in the XII announced this evening.

�There were times yesterday (in the practice outing against the West Indies), when Zaheer bowled as quick as Srinath would, a few years ago... Yuvraj, too, made the most of the opportunity. That�s what cricket is all about,� Sourav pointed out.

Enough pointers, then, that Sunil Joshi will almost surely sit out.

�Unlike last year (when India lost the quadrangular final to South Africa), the (centre) wicket is much more firm and it doesn�t seem there will be appreciable turn. Therefore, we could play all three seamers,� explained coach Aunshuman Gaekwad, who begins stop-gap innings No.2 at the same venue where his first innings ended.

The dew-factor is there as well at the Nairobi Gymkhana.

Significantly, for now, both Sourav and Gaekwad have ruled out exercising the Dravid-as-wicketkeeper option. Dahiya, who made the cut without accomplishing anything spectacular, should then feel comfortable. For some time, at least.

The last India-Kenya game was 17 months ago, in Bristol during the World Cup. While India posted a massive 94-run win, that match will always be remembered for Sachin�s 140 not out, an innings he dedicated to his late father. That masterpiece was scripted just hours after Sachin re-joined the team following his father�s last rites.

Sachin hasn�t been a consistently big-scorer in 2000 (average of under-35) and the Kenyan attack may well help rectify this anomaly. Millions will be hoping it does. That won�t only get India off to a pleasing 2000-2001 launch, cricket itself will get a shot in the arm.

This KnockOut event, after all, isn�t only about fund-raising. Given the scandal that has ripped cricket apart, the sport needs the Sachins to ensure pre-Cronjegate ratings are reclaimed, if not bettered.

For Sachin, it�s not a tough ask.

Incidentally, while the Indian team enjoys phenomenal support among the expats, many fans could face a dilemma tomorrow. It will be interesting seeing how that is resolved. Interesting, too, will be whether any Kenyan can claim any of the handsome incentives on offer from Starlit Insurance Brokers Ltd.


INDIA (likely): Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Vinod Kambli, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Singh, Vijay Dahiya, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Venkatesh Prasad and Zaheer Khan.

KENYA (From): Steve Tikolo, J. Kamande, Hitesh Modi, Thomas Odoyo, Maurice Odumbe, L. Onyango, Kennedy Otieno, Ravindu Shah, Mohammed Sheikh, Martin Suji, Tony Suji

Umpires: Steve Bucknor, Dave Orchard.

Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle.

Play starts at 12.15 pm IST    

Calcutta, Oct. 2: 
The issue about the use of whip in horse-racing gets a 48-hour breather. The October 3 �firm� deadline set by Maneka Gandhi, the Union minister of state, social justice and empowerment, has now been extended to October 5, on account of her pre-occupation with other ministerial affairs.

The deadline followed Maneka�s September 12 meeting in Bangalore with the Jockeys Association of India (JAI) and the Turf Authorities of India (TAI) representatives. The animal activist had also informed the turf representatives that a legislation to bar the use of the whip may have to be enacted if TAI failed to take a stand on the issue by October 3.

The TAI representatives, who met in Hyderabad yesterday, had another round of talks on the issue with JAI. �Having discussed the matter yesterday with all concerned, the Turf Authorities of India representatives has taken a unanimous stand to protect the interest of jockeys,� said Vineet Verma CEO and secretary Royal Calcutta Turf Club. We have also taken the world wide considered opinion on the matter and it will be presented to the honable minister on October 5 in Delhi,� added Verma.

The ball is in Maneka�s court now, though rules about the use of the whip may be further tightened.    

In a closely fought race, the Dallas Todywalla-trained Perceived Value posted an upset victory over Pesi Shroff ridden piping hot-favourite, Allocated, in the 2,000m The Hindu Deccan Derby at the Malakpet racecourse in Hyderabad on Monday. Brahm Prakash partnered the Razeen-Gourgandine filly to a half-a-length victory.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Delage Plate 1,400m: (2-9-4) Aux Armes (B. Krishnan) 1; Skimble 2; Heezlethal 3. Won by: 1/2; 2-1/2; (1-31). Tote: Win Rs 28; Place: 14; 13; 24; Quinella: 33; Tanala: 185. Fav: Skimble (9). (Note: The winner survived objection lodged by the rider of the third placed horse).

2. Madras Race Club Cup 1,600m: (4-1-3) Reine Beau (Appu) 1; Splendid King 2; Academy Road 3. Won by: SH; 2; (1-43). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 13; 52; Quinella: 94; Tanala: 969. Fav: Golden Turn (2).

3. Bangalore Turf Club Trophy 1,200m: (5-6-3) Mega Top (Appu) 1; Akarita 2; Fabulous Gem 3. Won by: 6; 1/2; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 35; Place: 14; 15; 18; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 194. Fav: Mega Top (5). (Note: Cadre finished third but was demoted following a objection).

4. Kitty Bank Cup 1,800m: (2-9-7) Artania (Ritesh) 1; Cannon Wave 2; Factual 3. Not run: Colour Of Love (4). Won by: 2; 1-3/4; (1-58.8). Tote: Win Rs 174; Place: 48; 27; 15; Quinella: 1,098. Tanala: 29,727. Fav: Anvita (6).

5. The Hindu Deccan Derby 2,000m: (5-1-4-3) Perceived Value (Prakash) 1; Allocated (Shroff) 2; Native Quest (Merchant) 3; Machrihanish (M. Narredu) 4. Won by: 1/2; 5; Nk; (2-7.2). Tote: Win Rs 81; Place: 25; 10; Quinella: 27; Tanala: 1,014. Fav: Allocated (1).

6. Alluri Seetharama Raju Trophy 1,600m: (8-7-6) He Looks Like Grundy (Gallagher) 1; Cool Riddinn 2; Pal Of Mine 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 2-1/4; (1-44). Tote: Win Rs 48; Place: 17; 48; 16; Quinella: 510; Tanala: 3,925. Fav: Pal Of Mine (6).

7. Rani Rudramma Devi Cup 1,400m: (2-1-6) Adjure Syndic (M. Narredu) 1; Covington 2; New York New York 3. Won by: Dist; 1-1/4; (1-29). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 13; 27; 80; Quinella: 73; Tanala: 1,574. Fav: Adjure Syndic (2).

Jackpot: Rs 90,360 (Carried over).

Treble: (i) Rs 2,181; (ii) Rs 1,750.    


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