Campbell, A. Flower defy India
I hate to see players leave country for money: Streak
Mission Australia for Raj Singh
Free kick/ Right demands in the wrong manner
Assam 203/4 vs Bengal
16 sub-par scores on Day Four
Calcutta Races/ Actress, Added Asset impress

Nagpur, Nov. 28: 
INDIA 609/6 dec.
ZIMBABWE 382, 238/3

Sourav Ganguly had a tired and devastated look around him as he sat on the balcony near the dressing room. The fourth day’s play had ended an hour back but the Indian skipper was trying to recollect the events that helped Zimbabwe somewhat claw back after being forced to follow-on in the first hour.

Alistair Campbell and Andy Flower have amassed an unbeaten 177-run stand for the fourth wicket and only a fresh dose of ‘vocal tonic’ (a la P.K. Banerjee) from the skipper could rejuvenate the Indians on the final day. The Zimbabweans are ahead by only 11 runs.

Sourav, though, sounded optimistic later. “Let’s see how it goes...There’s still lot of cricket left in this match. We’ll try to win.”

If the quick fall of wickets in the morning, had rekindled hopes of an innings victory, the bowlers ended all the good work with some aimless showing later in the day. “I thought the spinners were due to take more wickets,” Sourav said.

The Indians’ body language was also discouraging — drooping shoulders and sluggish movements on the field. The positive attitude was lacking and it showed in their approach. There was hardly any attempt to make things happen. At one point during the Campbell-Flower partnership it seemed as though it was not the hosts but the visitors who were calling the shots.

The early morning moisture on the wicket went a long way in Jawagal Srinath reaping rich harvest. He was getting the ball to seam and the Zimbabwe lower-order batted like novices. Heath Streak was left clueless by an inswinger in the day’s opening over, Nkala failed to keep his bat away from the late swing and Henry Olonga was bowled through the gate. It was scintillating stuff as the batsmen struggled as Srinath had figures of 6.1-3-3-3.

In between, Grant Flower (106 not out off 196 balls, 12x4, 4x6) completed his sixth century, a fitting reward for his temperament.

Sourav wanted to rest his main weapon and brought him only after lunch in the second innings. As the dew settled down and dryness set in, batting became easier. The spinners should have been of some help but an indisciplined attack spoilt all hopes. Sarandeep Singh did try some variations and was amply rewarded (three for 76) but he hardly showed that enthusiasm afterwards.

Guy Whittall played straight to mid on in Sarandeep’s first over. The Punjab off-spinner then struck in the fifth over after lunch, removing Stuart Carlisle and Gavin Rennie with the third and last balls, respectively. But that was all the success for the day.

Sunil Joshi’s recent encouraging form has been of little consequence in the match so far. The left-arm spinner still needs time and experience to grasp the art of picking wickets on this sort of flat tracks. He often bowled the wrong line, inviting punishment.

Sourav had no alternative but to fall back on Sachin Tendulkar. The flow of runs was checked but what mattered then was picking wickets. The Indian skipper was guilty of under-utilising Agarkar. The medium-pacer, who was impressive with the old ball yesterday, hardly got a chance to exhibit his skills at reverse swing today.

The unbeaten fourth wicket stand was built through some solid and sensible batting. There was no attempt to pulverise the attack, but the confidence they showed in tackling the spinners should percolate down the order.

It was a matter of patience and adjusting to the wicket and both Campbell (83 batting) and Andy (88 batting) were in no hurry to go for their shots. The determination and concentration were exemplary. More importantly, their 226 minute association has frustrated the Indians thus far, and if they manage to hang on till the first session tomorrow, the visitors could hope for a face-saving draw.

In his 47th Test match, Campbell is yet to score a hundred and it is a hoodoo he will be determined to break tomorrow. Andy will be eyeing his second hundred in the series and it will be interesting to see how the Indians plan their course of action on the final day.    

Nagpur, Nov. 28: 
It’s no mean task to lead a side which has two former captains — Alistair Campbell and Andy Flower. When Heath Streak was asked to take charge of Zimbabwe ahead of the home series versus New Zealand, he was “a bit surprised”.

The recent performance may not be very encouraging but Streak is determined to put his side on the road to success. A struggling economy and political instability have also complicated matters.

The visiting skipper spoke to The Telegraph last evening.

Following are excerpts

Q: On his role as captain

A: It’s a new job for me. It’s a honour leading the country and also a new challenge. It’s tough to compete at the international level with the world’s best players. It’s a hard task to balance between the realistic and the potential we possess.

Q: On leading a side which has two former captains

A: I can always look forward to them for assistance. They are the seniors with lots of experience. The have helped in shaping my career. They have the experience of being in situations which I’m yet to face and can rely on them in times of crisis. It’s very helpful for the side as we get along very well.

Q: On his reaction to being appointed captain

A: It was a bit awkward for me because it came a bit earlier than I expected. It was also because Andy had been quite successful in our previous tour of England.

Q: On players like Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson moving over to other countries in search of greener pastures

A: It’s a trend associated with every budding nation when it comes to international cricket. Obviously, the lure of the County and Pura Milk Cup (formerly called Sheffield Cup) is something that has been attractive. It’s an issue that our board has been addressing at the moment. I don’t think it will be a problem in the future as we do have the player resources. Though things have improved on the pay front, our economy is struggling. So it’s pretty hard on the board.

Q: On the possibility of having an uniform pay structure for the players

A: Most of the players are happy with the new contracts. We had our meeting with the board and an independent committee was set up to look into the demands. I don’t think there is any reason for the players to complain now.

There’s a bit of instability in the country and it is a problem the players have to deal with. I would hate to see people leave, though, I would also be surprised to find any more players leaving the country.

Q: On the future of Zimbabwe cricket

A: I do foresee a bright future. A lot of young guys are products of the academy through scholarships. There are half a dozen guys in the current squad who have gone through this academy. We don’t have the infrastructure that India or Australia have but it’s the best under the circumstances. We are improving but we need to further improve the disparity between us and the top nations.

Q: On how long he wishes to continue

A: I will carry on as long as I can. Whatever happens to the team, whether they are successful or not. Hopefully I will be part of a successful unit.

I have the ambition to do the best I can for the country. I will perform to the best of my abilities till I’m around.    

Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
As Board president, Raj Singh Dungarpur took the initiative to appoint Bobby Simpson as consultant.

That was in early 1998, and a welcome break with tradition. It’s another matter that Simpson didn’t quite have the impact most expected.

More recently, of course, Raj Singh had a big role in the appointment of John Wright as Indian cricket’s first overseas coach.

Now, the venerable chairman of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) is headed for Australia — to “study” the cricket structure, with a view to make Indian cricket “a mirror” of things Australian.

The trip has Board president A.C. Muthiah’s endorsement.

Speaking to The Telegraph this morning, soon after arriving for tomorrow’s Board meeting, Raj Singh said he would interact with the 1999 World Cup-winning coach Geoff Marsh at his first port of call — Perth.

Marsh, it is understood, will “brief” Raj Singh on Australia’s world-beating structure besides, possibly, offering his own thoughts on what can done in India.

Raj Singh revealed that Marsh, who was a contender for the national coach’s job, was the consultant-designate to the Board. There’s every possibility, then, Marsh may soon make another trip to India, this time in an official capacity.

From Perth, Raj Singh will head for Adelaide and the Academy there, before moving to Melbourne for a meeting with Australian Cricket Board mandarins. His last-stop will be Sydney.

“It’s never too late to learn, both where individuals and institutions are concerned... Australia’s has been a huge success story and, we in India, can revamp our structure based on the Australian model,” Raj Singh remarked.

He added: “Indeed, the winds of change are bound to hit our Board. Sadly, in management, we are 25 years behind even Pakistan and Sri Lanka... The present Board president is trying to introduce corporate governance and I wish everybody supports him.”

The obvious question is: Why didn’t he himself effect changes, in the structure, during the three years that he was Board president?

Raj Singh, refreshingly, didn’t offer excuses. He candidly accepted he had been a “failure,” quickly adding: “My predecessors, too, failed.”

This won’t go down very well with a lot of people, but Raj Singh didn’t have second thoughts after saying what he did.

In fact, Raj Singh continued in much the same vein: “One isn’t around to please others... And, let me add former cricketers have been resentful of the Board’s coach-specific move. Some may even be critical of Marsh...

“From my side, though, I have one question: Just how much has been the post-retirement contribution of the many so-called pundits who are either TV commentators or columnists? Negligible, I would say, and they must introspect.”

Well, somebody or the other, is bound to react...

Raj Singh, who believes “generating funds (alone) isn’t cricket, generating talent is” is understandably delighted with the coming good of NCA lad Shiv Sundar Das.

It’s no surprise that he backs Reetinder Singh Sodhi (included for the up-coming first three one-dayers) as a winner, too.    

Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
Indian football is in the headlines and, in a striking similarity with cricket, for the wrong reasons. Nine top clubs have launched a rebellion of sorts, casting a shadow over the National Football League (NFL).

The Indian Premier Football Association (IPFA), the rebel body which is threatening to stage a parallel ‘league’, has accused the All India Football Federation (AIFF) of being lackadaisical and blamed it for being unable to market the NFL properly.

The IPFA has also observed that the standard of the game is declining sharply and the sport is losing its popular base as well as its sponsors. They are on a collision course with the AIFF and, till date, there is no sign of any compromise.

To a large extent, what the IPFA is saying is true and nobody can overlook the fact that the last 15 years have been the most miserable in the history of Indian football. The AIFF must shoulder a major share of the blame as it failed to do what was expected.

Tournaments like Federation Cup and Nehru Cup are facing extinction and the NFL is not being run as professionally as it was in the inaugural year. To an extent, the AIFF is responsible and what the rebels are saying is true.

Still, question marks remain over the manner of expressing protest. If a group wants to run the game professionally, there are simpler ways of doing it. Extreme measures like staging a boycott should be avoided.

Obviously, those investing money in football are not doing it for a social cause and must get something in return. Likewise the rebel leaders, who have a solid financial base, could have approached the AIFF as a professional agency willing to conduct the NFL with their set of conditions. Such an approach would not have been out of place had running the NFL properly been their only concern.

There are certain ways of doing certain things in a democratic set-up and you can’t just stage a Fiji-like coup to uproot whatever you don’t like. If the clubs, and their backers, are really confident of doing a better administrative job, they should contest the AIFF elections and show their skills after winning it.

The alternative they are thinking of — staging a parallel tournament featuring a few top clubs — makes interesting reading but may not actually be feasible. A similar revolt featuring Europe’s biggest clubs was conceived a few years back which never materialised. It’s easy to float such an idea but sustaining it is a different ball-game.

A look at the people behind the movement also becomes necessary and their administrative skills and backgrounds need to be scrutinised. One extremely vocal member of the IPFA runs a club where elections have not been held in years. Another member club, after lofty claims of introducing professionalism in Indian soccer, is struggling to stay in the mainstream. Things are unlikely to change dramatically with these people at the helm.

It is clear that the clubs have shown the courage to challenge the parent body because they have a sound financial base which should keep them going for some time. But they will do well to make sure it does not become a one-man show. The Calcutta giants have already been forced to accept certain diktats from their sponsors on player-transfer and wouldn’t perhaps like a repeat.

The most disturbing aspect of the whole set of events is the timing of such a move. Indian football, already in dire straits, is trying to make an international mark by hosting the Millennium Cup early next year. It will be followed by pre-World Cup matches and the Afro-Asian Games, and Indians rarely get to play so many international matches in such a short span. Rather than extending co-operation, the rebel clubs have threatened they will not release players for this mega event.

The AIFF must be blamed for reducing the Nehru Cup to a sham but if the Millennium Cup comes off, it will be the biggest international tournament ever held in Asia. Clubs which prevent their players form taking part in such events are not just doing injustice to the game but are also betraying the nation.

The AIFF has done little to uplift the standard of Indian soccer but the Millennium Cup could just mark a turnaround. Denying players a taste of this is a serious offence and people sensing triumph in such a move are anything but soccer lovers. Also, the rebel clubs, despite claiming to be on a revolutionary drive to bring Indian football back to its glory days, have said little about their future plans.

To sum it up, the demands raised by the IPFA are worth pondering over. But the manner and time in which they are floated defies logic. Betterment of Indian football, clearly, is not the only motive.    

Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
Assam were at a comfortable 203 for four versus Bengal on the first day of their three-day BCCI under-22 meet at the Krishnagar Stadium today.

According to information reaching here Ranadeb Bose picked up two wickets for 36 and Dharmendra Singh and Shiv Sagar Singh picked a wicket apiece.


Ct. Suresh Kumar of ITBP, astride Green Doll, picked up gold in the tent pegging individual event of the national equestrian championship and FEI world jumping challenge meet at the Pat Williamson ground today.

In the NEC show jumping advance grade the gold went to Pushpendra Singh of RTS&D, astride Tej.

In the jumping normal for juniors Sunbdaram of Chennai Equestrian Academy, astride Multan, won gold.    

Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
There were 16 sub-par scores on the final day of the four-day round I of the Wills Cup golf championship, but T. K. Gooptu and S.S. Kapany jointly returned a five-under 65 nett to finish ahead of the field at the Tollygunge Club. The four-day second round begins tomorrow.

Two strokes behind the leaders at third spot were Kapil Sood and Amit Sen at four-under 66 nett while Sanjay Agarwal and Pratic Sen at three-under 67 nett finished joint fifth. Rahil Gangjee, India’s top ranked amateur carded a level-par 70 nett for the day.

SBI inter-circle soccer

Bhubaneswar Circle had an easy 5-1 win over Ahmedabad in their State Bank of India inter-circle football championship at the SAI, Eastern Centre ground today.

In the other match of the day Bangalore beat Chandigarh 2-0.

Saroj Das scored four in Bhubaneswar’s win, Suomadip Das scoring the other. P. Christau pulled one back for Ahmedabad. Xavier and Nagraj scored for Bangalore.

The mile swim

There will be a mile swim in the main lake of Rabindra Sarovar on December 2. The competition, organised by the Calcutta Sports Association, will start and finish at the Dhakuria (East) end of the pool. Participants will be from around the state and in fixed age-groups.    

Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
Actress, Added Asset Arendal, Artwork, Alyssum, Alsheim and So Royal were impressive from among the following horses seen exercising today morning:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Daggers Drawn (Rabani) in 1-56s; (1,200m) 1-23s; (800m) 55 (400m) 29s. Was urged to keep going..

1,400m: Actress (C. Alford) 1-38s; (1,000m) 1-8s; (400m) 28s. Good. Needs to be watched. Sterling Prospect (A. P. Singh) 1-39s; (400m) 28s. Moved well. Aragrove (A. Imran) in 1-48s; (400m) 28s. Moved easy.

1,200m: Remember Me (Rb) and Flying Scot (M. Reuben) in 1-30s; (800m) 1-0s; (400m) 29s. Both were level. Prince Obolensky (Ruther-ford) in (1,200m) 1-40s; (400m) 35s. Very easy.

1,000m: Double Bull (A. Imran) in 1-13s; (800m) 57s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Atomist (Islam) in 1-11s; (800m) 57s; (400m) 29 2/5s. Was unextended. Alyssum (A. P. Singh) and Alsheim (C. Alford) in 1-10s; (800m) 54s; (400m) 27s. Former a length better. Both are very fit.

800m: Starina (Salim) in 1-1s; (400m) 30 2/5s. Pure Passion (Rutherford) in 1-1s; (400m) 30 3/5s. Cavala (Rb) 1-1 2/5s; (400m) 29 4/5s. Arendal (C. Alford) and Freedom Dancer (A. P. Singh) in 54s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Former better. Both went unextended. Flinders (Khalander) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Easy. Artwork (C. Alford) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Moved well. Anolini (A. P. Singh) and Acrosto (C. Alford) in 53s; (400m) 26 4/5s. Former was a neck better. Both were urged. Storm Trooper (Kujur) in 57s; (400m) 29s. So Royal (Khalander) in 52s; (400m) 26s. Moved impressively.

600m: Art Smart (Kujur) in 43s; (400m) 29s.

Sand track

1,400m: Sky Hawk (Yacoob) in 1-41s; (1,000m) 1-14s; (800m) 59 (400m) 31s.

1,200m: Illustrious Reign (A. Imran) in 1-35s; (800m) 1-1s; (400m) 28 3/5s.

1,000m: Almond Rock (A. Imran) in 1-10 2/5s; (800m) 51s; (400m) 23s. Moved well.

800m: Added Asset (A. Imran) and Blessed Spirit (Upadhya) in 50s; (400m) 23 4/5s. Former was a distance better. Note.

400m: 2yo No. 4 (Engineer) and 2yo No. 2 (Yasin) in 26 3/5s. Former was a head better.

On Monday, outer sand track

600m: Allodium (C. Alford) in 39s; (400m) 25s. Good. Starry Flag (Rabani) in 40s; (400m) 26s. Moved well.    

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