Yesterday, Wasim Akram was taking the initiative in organising a safari-outing for the team tomorrow. Now, it appears, there will be an outing of a different kind: A ‘court-martial’ with Pakistan Cricket Board chief Lt General Tauqir Zia in the chair.
Strongly favoured to make Sunday’s ICC KnockOut Kenya 2000 final, Pakistan suffered a four-wicket defeat at New Zealand’s hands. As a semi-final at the Nairobi Gymkhana, it was terrific, but Pakistan must place much of the blame on their own laps.
They failed to bat through the 50 overs (after winning the toss) and, then, despite early breakthroughs, Roger Twose (87 in 101 balls, 14x4) and Nathan Astle (49 in 81 deliveries, 5x4) were allowed to add a tournament-record 135 for the third-wicket.
Later, with apparently conflicting views being aired on how to stop New Zealand, even the fielding turned tardy. Indeed, the venom went out of Pakistan’s attack as the cooler-than-cucumber Craig McMillan (51 not out in 56 balls, 3x4, 1x5) and Chris Cairns’ replacement Scott Styris (28 not out in 38 deliveries, 1x4, 1x6) made sure New Zealand didn’t earn the label of chokers.
For India, today’s result should come as excellent news. With Pakistan knocked out, they will take to their semi-final Friday, against South Africa, in a better frame of mind. Had the result been otherwise, the Pakistan-factor would surely have played on the Indians’ minds.
It’s unfair to thrust some of the blame on a newcomer, but the overthrow by substitute Faisal Iqbal, in the 42nd over, cost Pakistan heavily. It left captain Moin Khan so disgusted, that two balls later, he himself conceded four byes. In a pressure situation, the lapses were fatal.
While every captain is entitled to adopt his own strategy, it’s inexplicable that Moin didn’t bring back Akram for a couple of overs during the mammoth Twose-Astle association. After an opening burst of six overs, Akram got one after that partnership ended and, then, three at the end.
It was too late. Unusually, Akram bowled two wides in what turned out to be his and the semi-final’s last over.
“We totalled 20-30 runs less and got outplayed... No, we weren’t over-confident. Even yesterday, I said New Zealand are a formidable one-day team,” remarked a downcast Moin, at the post-match Media conference. Intriguingly, he added: “The Media made us favourites, we didn’t say anything...”
Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, maintained a “disciplined effort” is what he had been looking for and, obviously, didn’t get disappointed. He lauded McMillan and Styris for “soaking the enormous pressure.”
Sadly, Pakistan’s defeat relegated Azhar Mehmood’s inspired bowling to footnote-status. Ditto where Saeed Anwar’s hundred is concerned. Mehmood not only effected the early breakthroughs, but terminated the highest partnership as well. Later, he sent back Adam Parore.
The only other wicket-taker was Saqlain Mushtaq, who induced Twose to top-edge a sweep. Saqlain, however, was far from his best and nowadays isn’t as aggressive an offie as he had come to be feared.
While Saqlain didn’t enhance his reputation, ODI-specialist Twose definitely did. Actually, Twose has now posted four half-centuries in succession — two in Zimbabwe and two (in as many games) here. Picking the gaps and the right deliveries, and rotating the strike... Fleming couldn’t have asked for more.
Except, perhaps, that Twose should have been rooted till the end. But, then, McMillan and Styris proved equal to the occasion.
Pak’s rescue act
Earlier, a string of largely unforced errors landed Pakistan in real hot waters in the middle-overs after an encouraging start by Anwar and Imran Nazir. If Pakistan did get past 250, it was thanks entirely to the 59-run partnership for the seventh-wicket between Akram and Abdul Razzaq.
While Akram got 34 off 35 balls (1x4), Razzaq collected 48 in 49 deliveries (5x4). Razzaq, specially, looked set for a bigger score till he holed out in the deep when the countdown to the innings’ close had begun.
It ended, with four balls remaining, when MoM Shayne O’Connor brought off a brilliant one-handed reflex return-catch to claim Saqlain. This premature close must obviously have prompted coach Javed Miandad to give a bit of pep talk — his style, of course. That’s why, it seems, Moin and Co. were on the field a good 15 minutes before the second session began.
Nazir’s miscued pull off O’Connor is what began Pakistan’s misery, even though the openers put on 59 in under 10 overs. Yousuf Youhana was next to go, driving, while a lazy Inzamam-ul Haq got himself stumped. Ijaz Ahmed then went to a great, low return catch by Chris Harris.
Moin’s suicidal run out, just a while later, made it worse. Instead of initiating a recovery, Pakistan cricket’s crisis-man landed the team in a bigger crisis. At 143 for five (30th over), Pakistan’s invincibility was already in shreds.
All this while, Anwar kept moving towards century No.19, his second on-the-trot in the tournament. He was particularly strong square off the wicket and found gaps in other areas as well. Though he doesn’t talk about it much, Anwar is intent on eventually getting past Sachin Tendulkar (25 hundreds).
Anwar himself exited soon after completing his century. It would be termed a soft dismissal but, then, Anwar looked tired. His 104 came in 115 deliveries (16x4). It’s his departure which brought Akram and Razzaq together and the full-tosses, at the start of the overs of death, helped Pakistan claw back somewhat.
But wickets again fell in a heap, with O’Connor finishing with as many as five (for 46). Incidentally, while Geoff Allott (the last World Cup’s joint highest wicket-taker) got some stick, there were moments when his swing left more than one batsman non-plussed.
Clearly Allott, too, played a role.
Today, though, was one day when an hour-and-a-half was devoted entirely to catching and hitting the stumps.
Both captain Sourav Ganguly and coach Aunshuman Gaekwad realise that one missed catch or a botched run out could make all the difference Friday, during the KnockOut semi-final versus South Africa.
The morning nets were held at the Ruaraka Sports Club and present was Sourav, who has recovered from the Nairobi-belly. Tonight, the Indians are set to “review” their own performance in the tournament, by watching video recordings, as also South Africa’s comprehensive win over England yesterday.
Indications are the XI which defeated world champions Australia last Saturday will be retained.
The South Africans, by the way, had a well-earned off day.
Fletcher, who comes from a truly sporting family — sister Ann captained Zimbabwe to the hockey gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics — did wonders at Western Province (South Africa) and, in his maiden year as Glamorgan’s coach (1997), guided them to their first Championship title in almost 30 years.
Now, of course, the 52-year-old Fletcher is England’s head coach. An allrounder in his playing days, Fletcher spoke to The Telegraph the other evening. He is a man of few words.
Following are excerpts
Q You’ve captained Zimbabwe, coached at the provincial level in South Africa and, for a year now, have been with England. A lay person could get a bit confused...
A I’d settled in South Africa though now, obviously, I’m based in England. However, I travel on a Zimbabwean passport.
Q Though you took charge last October, your appointment was made after the May-June World Cup itself... That had been another disastrous outing. What were your thoughts when you signed up with the ECB?
A Simple: That, hopefully, I could turn things around.
Q But when you took charge, you didn’t have much to lose, isn’t it?
A That’s probably one way of looking at it. However, if things hadn’t begun to turn around, it’s possible I wouldn’t have been talking to you in Nairobi... My contract, though, is till September 2001.
Q What’s the top attraction in coaching a national side?
A The sheer challenge... Whatever the career you choose, after a stage you want to move up. For a coach, there’s nothing higher than handling a national team.
Q A year down the road, how do you feel?
A It’s been as challenging as I thought it would be. It’s been rewarding, too. I accept there’s a long way to go but I’m not disappointed with the results so far.
Q What do you see a coach’s role as in the present era?
A Making use of the technical expertise apart, a lot of it has to do with man-management, reducing the pressure on players... Whether the team is successful or not, all 14-15 players must relate to each other. A priority of mine was to improve team spirit, which was pretty low when I took charge... A good coach is one who quickly appreciates the frustrations of players.
Q You’re a selector, too, aren’t you?
A Yes... We’ve made some good selections. Hopefully, we’ll continue to make the right choice. Should the coach wear two hats? Well, the England captain is also a selector and, going by the present example, this dual role has been working well.
Q Do you hold a monopoly on strategy or invite inputs from Nasser Hussain and the senior pros as well?
A (Smiles briefly)There’s a structure I’ve always put in place whereby there’s a management team (of senior players) within the team. It’s important to give responsibility, involve the seniors in policy... That way, I suppose, strategy will be better accepted and implemented.
Q Are you, like Bob Woolmer for instance, into taking the help of technology in a big way?
A At the moment, there’s a lot of camera work, specially during practice sessions... A data base is being built... We’re trying to put something in place but, really, there’s no point trying too many things if they won’t work.
Q David Lloyd, your predecessor, often talked about a back-up system — speci- alist coaches, for example. Has there been a change?
A Changed a bit... The assistant coaches are there (Bob Cottam and Martyn Moxon) but during a home series, in particular, I make sure there aren’t too many people around the dressing room... In the recent home series’, I also availed of Graham Gooch’s services. However, 24 hours before a (home) Test began, the coaches wouldn’t be around. [Cottam is the specialist bowling coach, while Moxon is the limited overs’ specialist.]
Q Have you envied any coach?
A No... Haven’t admired anyone either. I’ve learnt things my way, have been the type of coach I wanted to be.
Q So, what’s your style?
A The Media in England has often asked me ... Honestly, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the players. A coach must have plenty of energy and enthusiasm for the job — I neither lack enthusiasm nor am I short on energy.
Q Will a coach from overseas be able to deliver better?
A There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage I’ve enjoyed is I didn’t have a bias for any County... But, yes, I did also start with a slight disadvantage in that I didn’t know all the players... I reckon this debate won’t end in a hurry.
Q Do you read the Riot Act when things don’t go well?
A If you read it too often, won’t remain the Riot Act, will it? It’s important people respect each other.
Q Not too long ago, Woolmer insisted every coach had a shelf life. Do you agree?
A After a while, a coach indeed could become stale... However, that’s very subjective: Ten years, five or two?
Q Are you happy with Zimbabwe’s progress?
A Considering the cricket-base there, very much so.
Q Is there a chance you could return to Zimbabwe?
A At this point in time, I can’t say I won’t ever go... Don’t think I can answer you better.
Q The last question: You were captain at Tunbridge Wells when Kapil Dev authored that epic unbeaten 175. Does that innings still haunt you?
A It was a great innings but, no, doesn’t haunt me... Point is we played above ourselves in that 1983 World Cup... We were just a bunch of amateurs. In fact, I think the Australians must still be haunted by our win at Trent Bridge.
The 22-year-old from Patiala took to gymnastics and emerged national junior all-around champion in 1993 before clinching the senior crown next year.
However, the vaulting horse made way for the pole two years back when the event started gaining international recognition and Karamjit established herself as the national champion in the first opportunity: at the Lucknow inter-state meet earlier this year, with an effort of 2.82m. Today, she bettered the mark with a leap of 3.10m.
Women’s pole vault has now been included in the Olympics and chances are it will make its Asian Games debut in 2002.
Karamjit says she clears 3.40 in practice and lack of competition makes drastic progress difficult but her aim is to clear 3.5 and qualify for the next Asian Games.
Right now, she trains at SAI, Patiala, where the synthetic track is being relaid, forcing her to practise on grass for the moment.
Zonal meetThe East Zone junior athletic meet will be held at Salt Lake Stadium and SAI Eastern Centre on Saturday and Sunday. Ten teams are expected to take part.
Things went along expected lines with Indian Railways retaining the men’s and women’s team championship titles though the Indian Police team snatched four gold medals on the final day.
K.M. Beenamol shaved 00.16 seconds off Shiny Wilson’s six-year-old 400m meet record of 52.41 and Om Prakash Dudi bettered Jagdish Singh’s javelin mark of 76.36 to set a new meet record of 76.96. The national record of 79.68 belongs to Satvir Singh.
Karamjit Kaur of Railways bettered her own national pole vault record of 2.82m with a leap of 3.10. This was the second tournament in India which featured women’s pole vault after the Lucknow inter-state meet.
The show of the day, however, came from a 17-year-old Haryana girl called Seema Antil, who overpowered national record-holder Neelam J Singh in the discus.
Seema cleared 57.20, well short of Neelam’s national record of 61.41 and even the veteran’s meet record of 59.18 but handed the favourite her first defeat in India in over two years.
“No, I’m not surprised to beat Neelam, I have thrown 58 in practice and my progress since July has been steady,” said Seema, a member of the Indian team for the world junior meet to be held in Chile from October 17.
Seema, trained by Pradip Banerjee, Jaswant Singh and of course Neelam at the SAI camp in Patiala, managed just 47 till late last year and plans to touch 70 in the next few years.
Beenamol coasted home without a trace of challenge in the women’s 400m. Running at lane 3, from where she clocked a leisurely 55.23 in the heat, the Olympic semi-finalist caught up with the rest by the first 150 after which the gap between her and others kept widening. Today’s effort, however, was well short of the 51.51 she had clocked in one of the heats in Sydney.
Coach sees new talents
This edition of the National Open meet witnessed just two national records and three meet records but national chief coach Bahadur Singh said he had seen a few rays of hope.
“Rather than a record-breaking performance where the winner annihilates the rest, it’s better to see youngsters making their mark which has been the case this year,” he said.
“I’ve seen at least eight newcomers doing well and I’m sure they will win medals in the 2002 Asian Games,” the national coach asserted.
According to him, fresh talents have come up in men’s and women’s shot put, discus and 400m hurdles, men’s javelin and women’s triple jump.
“We’re not going to relax and will resume training from the beginning of November. Exposure trips, however, are needed to help these youngsters live up to expectations,” he added.
AAAWB gestureThe Amateur Athletic Association of West Bengal has donated Rs 25,100 to the state government’s flood relief fund.
RESULTSMEN: 110m hurdles: 1. Gurpreet Singh (Rly, 14.34); 2. P.T. Yesudas (Rly, 14.58); 3. Jangjit Singh (Pol, 14.72).
400m: 1. Anil Kumar Rohit (Ser, 46.79); 2. Manoj Lal (Rly, 47.13); 3. Sheikh Samsher (Ben, 47.64).
5000m: 1. Gulab Chand (Rly, 15:00.29); 2. Aman Saini (Steel, 15:00.59); 3. Harish Tiwari (LIC, 15:02.08).
20km walk: 1. Amrik Singh (Ser, 1::39:53.6); 2. Sita Ram (Ser, 1::40.23); 3. Gurdev Singh (Ser, 1::41:26.8).
Long jump: 1. Amit Kumar Saha (Rly, 7.53); 2. Vinod Kumar (Pol, 7.45); 3. Sanjiv Sharma (Pun, 7.35).
Hammer: 1. Rupinder Pal (Pol, 64.32); 2. Vinod Kumar (LIC, 63.31); 3. Suresh Kumar (Pol, 63.28).
Javelin: 1. Om Prakash Dudi (Rly, 76.96, NMR); 2. Fazal Ansari (Ser, 72.72); 3. B.S. Dubey (LIC, 72.50).
WOMEN: 400m: 1. K.M. Beenamol (Rly, 52.25, NMR); 2. Asik Bebi (Pol, 53.51); 3. Sapinder Kaur (Pun, 54.73).
1500m: 1. K.P. Sudha (Del, 4:25.97); 2. Molly Biju (Rly, 4:30.27); 3. Sunita (Del, 4:30.69).
Pole vault: 1. Karamjit Singh (Pol, 3.10, NR); 2. Indubala Devi (Man, 2.20); 3. Tiposhama Deka (Pol, 2.10).
High jump: 1. A.K. Deepa (Pol, 1.73); 2. Jayanthi (TN, 1.65); 3. Lucy Deshmukh (Rly, 1.65).
Discus: 1. Seema Antil (Pol, 57.20); 2. Neelam J Singh (Rly, 57.13); 3. Harjit Kaur (Pun, 52.30).
Heptathlon: 1. Soma Biswas (Rly, 5472); 2. J.J. Shobha (Rly, 4478); 3. Poonam Sahu (Pol, 4204).
Norman has been one of the hottest players on the Tour this year. Winner of five titles, Norman made his maiden Grand Slam final (French Open) before losing to Gustavo Kuerten. He is currently ranked No. 4 in the ATP Tour Champion’s Race.
According to club secretary Mantoo Ghosh, Dutta will meet the players Friday, a day before they leave for Sikkim. His contract is up to the completion of the National League, Ghosh said.
Two seeds beatenGirls’ under-14 second seed Hina Valecha lost to unseeded Malini Chowdhury 6-1, 1-6, 1-6 in a pre-quarter final match of the ITA Junior Open meet at SAI Eastern Centre.
The other seeded player to crash out was boys’ under-12 fourth seed Archisman Mitra. He lost 5-7, 4-6 to the unseeded Sourav Shaw in the first round.
Sub-junior cricketShute Banerjee CCC and Sonarpur Sports Academy posted wins in the Kartick Bose Memorial sub-junior cricket meet at Deaf and Dumb School ground. While Shute Banerjee CCC beat Sambaran Banerjee CA by four wickets, Sonarpur SA defeated North Howrah CCC by six wickets.
The season toppersAlthough the monsoon season fields were poor, the competition was always of top order.The two professionals who dominated the proceedings throughout the season were trainer Vijay Singh and jockey Cristopher Alford. The following are the top three in their respective fields:
Top three trainers: Vijay Singh (30 wins); R. Alford (18); Bharath Singh (17).
Top three jockeys: Cristopher Alford (38 wins); Robert Gowli (9); S. Rabani (7).
Top three apprentices: Amjad Khan (4 wins); Md Islam (3); Rutherford Alford (3).
Top three owners:Deepak Khaitan; MAM Ramaswamy; MAMR Muthiah.
Top three tipsters (Cash awards): Kapil Bose (Bartaman); Pravesh “Star Racer” Gupta (The Telegraph); Sunil Ranjan Neogy (Horse Power).
Tipsters’ tally toppers (Silver salvers): Sanmarg; The Statesman; The Telegraph.
RESULTS1. Ootman Handicap 1,400m: (2-4-3-1) Anntari (Islam) 1; Bird’s Empire (Merchant) 2; Chicarica (Amjad) 3; Alastar (C. Alford) 4. Won by: 3-1/4; 9; 1; (1-31.5). Tote: Win Rs 94; Place: 25; 17; Quinella: 80; Tanala: 687. Fav: Alastar (1).Winner trained by Bharath S.
2. Saloon Handicap 1,200m: (4-7-8-3) Alterezza (C. Alford) 1; Santillana (Merchant) 2; Friendly Knight (M. Reuben) 3; Floral Path (Rutherford) 4. Won by: Hd; 1; 6-1/4; (1-18.8). Tote: Win Rs 45; Place: 16; 12; 17; Quinella: 29; Tanala: 154. Fav: Santillana (7). Winner trained by Vijay S.
3. Defence Forces Cup 1,400m: (3-6-2-5) Allodium (C. Alford) 1; Aldebro (A. P. Singh) 2; Tanganyika (M. Reuben) 3; Giorgio (Upadhya) 4. Won by: 2-3/4; 3; Nk; (1-30.5). Tote:Win Rs 13; Place: 12; 18; Quinella: 21; Tanala: 73. Fav: Allodium (3). Winner trained by Bharath S.
4. Fair Manzar Handicap 1,000m: (5-2-4-6) Armila (Yasin) 1; Run Ahead (Islam) 2; Adeline (C. Alford) 3; Fibo-nacci (Rutherford) 4. Won by: Nk; 1; 2; (1-7.4). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 18; 34; Quinella: 98; Tanala: 658. Fav: Armila (5). Winner trained by P. Locke.(Note: An objection lodged against the winner by the rider of the second horse).
5. Unknown Warrior Cup 1,400m: (1-6-8-7) Sky Command (Manohar) 1; Charlene (Rabani) 2; Bul Bul (Engineer) 3; Black Mane (M. Reuben) 4. Won by: 2; Nk; 1/2; (1-32). Tote: Win Rs 104; Place: 23; 14; 20; Quinella: 93; Tanala: 1,104. Fav: Charlene (6). Winner trained by Mujeeb R.
6. St. Quinn Handicap 1,000m: (2-3-7-9) On The Bit (Connorton) 1; Work Order (Surender) 2; Amistad (C. Alford) 3; Magic Ring (Yacoob) 4. Not run: Software (4). Won by: SH; 3; 2; (1-6). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place: 11; 28; 18; Quinella: 114; Tanala: 438. Fav: On The Bit (2). Winner trained by J. Stephens.
Jackpot: Rs 1,555; (C) Rs 389.
Treble: (i) Rs 616; (ii) Rs 284.
SELECTIONS1.45 pm: Goldeneye 1. Golden Days 2. Essential Elegance 3.
2.15 pm: Cassini 1. Kylin 2. Cyclades 3.
2.45 pm: Splendid View 1. Don King 2. Acceptor 3.
3.15 pm: Compliance 1. Splendid Chance 2. Genting Highlands 3.
3.45 pm: Elegant Rainbow 1. Soviet Bay 2. Royal Steps 3.
4.15 pm: Royal Debut 1. Belief 2. Furia Rossa 3.
4.45 pm: Dior 1. Rosalie 2. Like A Princess 3.
5.15 pm: Mum’s The Word 1. Sea Horse 2. Calculus 3.
Day’s Best: Dior Double: Splendid View & Elegant Rainbow