A test of consistency
Packed itinerary for Indians
Bengal cruise to 9-wkt win
Aashish Kapoor in contention
George, Md.Sp. post victories
Albatross card
Chopra file handed over to Madhavan
Morarka: What was the big hurry?
Bangalore Racing/ Native Tactics may win again
�Mumbai Racing/ Glory� upsets

Jodhpur, Dec. 7: 
Two-zero up, the team on a roll and another flat wicket full of runs. India look all set to wrap up the one-day series against Zimbabwe when this desert outpost hosts its first one-day International tomorrow.

Ironically, it is in these positions of strength that India have often been at their most vulnerable.

Blame it on complacency, inconsistency� anything, but there are few teams in the world that can beat them in the lack of ruthlessness � something that has the Aussies gorging opponents match after match and yet coming back for more with a hunger that is frightening. No, that�s not for us. Not as yet. It will need time, maybe lots of it, to set in in the psyche of Indian sportsmen, though Sourav Ganguly and new coach John Wright are making all the right moves to instill this attitude.

There are many, no doubt, who are wondering whether the winning streak will snap at the Barkatulla Khan Stadium here in the �Sun City�, or will Sourav�s young brigade carry their good work a step further, and not leave it for later, as India did so alarmingly against New Zealand only last year.

Zimbabwe are no New Zealand, not even in the shorter version of the game that looks so much up their street but they will surely be coming into the match with a vengeance. And, for them, there is a great deal to draw inspiration from.

For one, from what looks a flat and �true� wicket where strokemakers should flourish, there is the promise of extra bounce � the track is almost as hard as the stones that have been used to make the terraces around this pretty ground so unique. Travis Friend could well be licking his lips, as would anyone who loves to hit the deck. Friend could well be a handful, especially in the early overs, and if he can make the inroads into the top-order, we could well have a match on our hands. India�s �inexperienced� middle-order has done well for itself so far, but it would be interesting to find out how they handle a little more lively stuff.

It will, of course, require the Zimbabweans to bowl well in tandem � something they�ve shown no sign of doing on this trip. They will find hope in the fact that they do have bowlers who can deliver if they get their act together. They have been too loose on tracks that allow so little margin for error.

If Henry Olonga can summon the inspiration that saw him playing crucial roles in some of Zimbabwe�s most memorable moments in the game � the dramatic World Cup win over India last year still fresh in memory � or if skipper Heath Streak can bowl to potential, the home side could well feel the heat.

Potential is one thing, performance quite another. And skipper Streak will tell you where his problems stem from.

�The bowling�s let us down,� he said soon after nets today. �Indian pitches may not be the best thing for our bowlers, but we�ve bowled too many �gift� deliveries. There�s been a lack of discipline in our bowling, and we have to give that up quickly. We have to restrict India to a reasonable total, so that the batsmen are not under the sort of pressure they were in at Ahmedabad.�

One bowler who won�t be turning his arm for Zimbabwe tomorrow is Dirk Viljoen, ruled out with a groin injury. Later in the evening, the Zimbabwe thinktank replaced spin with pace in the form of Mluleki Nkala, who will be playing his first one-day match of the tour. Leg-spinner Brian Murphy will sit out too. It�s obvious what the Zimbabweans feel about this track.

There have not been changes in the XI alone, but Guy Whittall will move up to open the innings with Campbell in a twist to the batting order as well.

The small ground (the boundary rope is a mere 65 yards away) and what should be a very fast outfield (it�s smooth and hard) could also work to Zimbabwe�s advantage because of their far superior fielding standards.

The Indians had another hard workout under the watchful eyes of Wright. With Nikhil Chopra still around, they have again had to choose from 13 and the Indians have left out Shiv Sundar Das in naming their XII. Ajit Agarkar is fit again for selection.

Both Sourav and Wright warned against complacency, and they will probably be helped in this matter by the fact that there is a clutch of youngsters trying to find a firm foothold in international cricket. And they will, no doubt, also remember that all selectors will be here (the team for the remaining couple of matches will be picked tomorrow) to watch them.

Sourav himself is in tremendous form, and this is just the sort of wicket that could lend itself to his brand of cricket. Sachin Tendulkar has of late shown a vulnerability to the short rising ball outside his off-stump, especially in the early part of his innings. Should he get over that period, there�s plenty of runs for him here.

And for the others.

All said and done, it�s still the sort of wicket you�d want to bat on first, but not one where the toss will not be as important as it was in Ahmedabad.


INDIA (from): Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Sunil Joshi,Hemang Badani, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, S. Sriram, Vijay Dahiya, Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad,Ajit Agarkar.

ZIMBABWE: Alistair Campbell, Guy Whittall, Stuart Carlisle, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Heath Streak, Travis Friend, Henry Olonga, Gavin Rennie, Brian Strang, Mluleki Nkala.

Umpires: S. K. Bansal (Delhi), C. R Mohite (Baroda). Third umpire: Subroto Banerjee (Bengal).


Jodhpur, Dec. 7: 
India have lined up several more series after the Aussies leave their shores later this season. They begin with a tri-series in Sharjah from April 14 to 22. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the other teams.

This will be followed with India reciprocating Zimbabwe�s current tour. India will be playing two Tests in that country in addition to a tri-series (West Indies being the third team) during their trip from June 2 to July 10.

India will then embark on a two-month tour of South Africa from October. There will be three Tests and a series of seven one-day Internationals. They will return to take on England at home with very little break in between. Details of this tour has, however, not been finalised.

BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele said the proposed tri-series in Dhaka involving hosts Bangaldesh, Pakistan and India next January is still being considered by the Union government. �Since Pakistan is involved, we need to discuss this further with the government,� he said.

The tour of Sri Lanka in July is also under consideration, but India will definitely not be participating in the Sharjah meet in October next year. �We�ve informed the CBFS about this,� Lele said.


Calcutta, Dec. 7: 
Propelled by a 119-run opening stand, Bengal cruised to a nine-wicket victory over Tripura in the East Zone qualifiers for Wills Trophy at the CC&FC today.

Set a target of 152 in, Bengal reached the target with 18.2 overs to spare, losing Arijit Bose.

Nikhil Haldipur and Arijit � Bengal�s two southpaw openers � started off in rollicking manner. Tripura�s weak bowling and sloppy fielding only aided their task. Nikhil�s unbeaten 87 came off 93 balls with 14 boundaries.

Bengal were halfway through to their target in 13 overs, with 13 shots racing towards the fence. In the meantime, bat was beaten only once and Arijit survived a strong caught-behind appeal on another occasion.

Tripura captain Sourav Dasgupta, seeing his frontline bowlers failing to make any dent, brought himself on. His gentle off-spin effected a gradual decrease in the run spree as well as the only breakthrough.

Orissa thrash Assam

Orissa outclassed Assam by 193 runs in another match at Eden Gardens today. After setting up a total of 353, Orissa skittled out Assam for just 160. Off-spinner Sanjay Satpathy took five for 36. Earlier, the opening pair of Pradip Das and BBCC Mahapatra put up a 129-run base which was successfully utilised by skipper Rashmi Ranjan Parida and Pravanjan Mallik.

BRIEF SCORES: Orissa 353/4 (Pradip Das 94, BBCC Mahapatra 77, RR Parida 58, P. Mallik 69; Mihir Diwakar 2/67). Assam 160 in 34 ovs (M.S. Dhoni 43, Ansuman Raj 51; Sanjay Satpathy 5/36, P. Jaychandra 2/57, Debashish Mohanty 1/29). Orissa won by 193 runs


Jodhpur, Dec. 7: 
With the selectors set to off-load Nikhil Chopra from the Indian bandwagon, the off-spinner�s slot is now up for grabs.

Sarandeep Singh would have started the favourite for a berth on the squad when the selectors sit to choose the 14 for the last two matches against Zimbabwe tomorrow. However, veteran Aashish Kapoor caught up late in the day, and could get the nod ahead of the Punjab youngster.

None of the selectors could make it to the nets this morning, what with Madan Lal arriving in the afternoon and the others (chief selector Chandu Borde, Ashok Malhotra, T.A. Sekhar and Sanjay Jagdale) landing only late this evening. Soon after checking in, the selectors rushed to the team hotel for a discussion with skipper Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright.

While everyone will heave a sigh of relief that the Chopra chapter is over for the moment, Sourav may well be a little disappointed that he is unlikely to get his choice, Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan does not have the backing of even Madan Lal, the selector from his zone. Since the selectors will choose the team after tomorrow�s match here and, thus, have the benefit of knowing whether India have wrapped up the series, there may be a move to rest one or two players.

Everyone, including BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele, who will also be attending tomorrow�s meeting as usual, has, of course, ruled out resting seniors like skipper Sourav, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Venkatesh Prasad and Sunil Joshi.

Indications are that Ajit Agarkar, just back from a side strain, may be asked to rest in that case. But that will be only after feedbacks from the team management, especially physio Andrew Leipus and coach Wright. In that case, Baroda�s exciting new-ball bowler Rakesh Patel and Delhi left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra may make the 14. Nehra will have the backing of Sourav.


Sourav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, Sridharan Sriram, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Vijay Dahiya, Sunil Joshi, Zaheer Khan, Shiv Sundar Das, Sarandeep Singh, Ajit Agarkar/Rakesh Patel/Ashish Nehra, Venkatesh Prasad.


Calcutta, Dec. 7: 
George Telegraph, Mohammedan Sporting, Eastern Railway, Kumartuli Institute and Measurers posted wins in the two-day CAB league today.

An unbeaten century by Dalbag Singh � his second in a row, thwarted Tollygunge Agragami�s bid to win over Excelsiors.


Ballygunge United Club 202. Eastern Railway 205/1 (Diptendu Mahata 92, Arun Chatterjee 88). Eastern Railway won by 9 wkts.

Mohammedan SC 287. Young Bengal 144 (Tutun Dasgupta; Nazar Khan 3/37, Ranjan Jaiswal 3/34). Mohammedan SC won by 143 runs.

DKSD 196.George Telegraph 200/4 (B.K. Mazumder 59 n.o., Subhranil Som 42). George Telegraph won by 6 wkts.

Kumartuli Institute 292. Netaji Subhas Institute 248 (M. Chakraborty 69, Biswanath Bose 59). Kumartuli won by 44 runs.

Measurers Club 399. Jorabagan Club 172 (Tanoy Bag 65; Kirti Sarkar 4/48). Measurers Club won by 227 runs.

Tollygunge Agragami 409/4. Excelsiors 341/8 (Dalbag Singh 117 n.o., Debashis Das 84 n.o.; B.P. Singh 3/65). Match drawn.

St. Xavier�s win

St. Xavier�s beat St. Lawrence by eight wickets in the inter-school invitation meet at the latter�s ground today. The hosts made 165 for eight in 25 overs. Praveen Khaitan (59) helped St. Xavier�s win with 1.1 overs to spare.


Calcutta, Dec. 7: 
Praduman Guleria carded the first-ever albatross in the history of the Wills Sport Golf Tour, on way to setting a new course record along with Rahul Ganapathy, each returning cards of six-under 66 on Day II of the Servo Masters tournament in Digboi today. The earlier record of 67 was of Harmeet Kahlon.

According to information received here, Mukesh Kumar continued to lead with a tally of six-under 138. Ganapathy was joint second with Rohtas Singh.

Irina maintains lead

Irina Brar continued to lead in the Ladies East India Challenge Cup at Tollygunge Club with a total of 213. She was followed by Shruti Khanna and Parnita Grewal with 217 and 218, respectively.

Manavi Halwasiya and T. Halwasiya were leading in the Rasoi Cup and Open Scratch Trophy & Burdwan Cup. Manavi won the Kuku Chowdhury Memorial Cup.


Calcutta, Dec. 7: 
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, A.C. Muthiah, has formally asked K. Madhavan, the body�s commissioner, to investigate the Nikhil Chopra affair.

According to The Telegraph�s sources, Madhavan has been given a year-end deadline to submit his report.

Chopra, it may be recalled, was one of three current India players (the others being Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja) raided by the Income Tax authorities and probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during its match-fixing inquiry.

Though the CBI didn�t implicate Chopra, the agency ended its Analysis of Evidence with the following: �There is no evidence so far which discloses that he was into betting/match-fixing.�

As, officially, the CBI�s inquiry is not over, the �so far� bit caught the BCCI�s attention. Specifically, that of Muthiah.

And, so, Muthiah has been firm that Chopra�s next India appearance should only be after the BCCI�s own investigator, Madhavan, has completed his probe. Eventually, Chopra could just be reprimanded, but this would be one more message from the BCCI that absolutely nothing unethical will be overlooked.

But for a faux pas on the part of BCCI�s secretary Jaywant Lele, who didn�t seek Muthiah�s consent (the president�s okay is mandatory) before announcing the squad for the first three ODIs versus Zimbabwe, Chopra would not have been in the awkward position of being in the XIV and yet not wanted.

This hugely embarrassing chapter in the BCCI�s history will end in Jodhpur when the selectors pick the squad for the last two ODIs.

This time, the dropping of Chopra will be official.

Incidentally, during his deposition before the CBI, Chopra was vague on why he entertained/made calls to bookies Rajesh Kalra, Rattan Mehta and Sanjeev Chawla. �I don�t recollect� and �I don�t know� was some of Chopra�s replies, as put on record by the CBI.


Jodhpur, Dec. 7: 
Kamal Morarka has been blamed for ducking when it was his call to be party to one of the biggest decisions in Indian cricket. The BCCI vice-president, a member of the three-man disciplinary committee of the Board, stayed away when the committee, chaired by BCCI president A.C. Muthiah, slapped a life ban on former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and imposed other sanctions on Ajay Jadeja, Ajay Sharma and Manoj Prabhakar for their role in match-fixing.

Today, he decided to hit back at the allegations.

�What was the big hurry that no one found it necessary to find out whether all members of the committee were available at such short notice?� said Morarka, who said he could not attend the Chennai meeting because of �family commitments�.

�I had made it clear then (in Calcutta) that I was not available. We should have first been asked and then the Media should have been told (about the meeting).�

Muthiah had announced the date of the Chennai sitting at the special AGM in Calcutta on November 29, though it was later postponed by a day to last Tuesday.

Morarka is also not happy �with the way it has been handled�. �We (the three-man committee, the other member being K.M. Ramprasad) were the judges in the end, and we should have acted by weighing (the arguments) of both sides. We should have weighed everything available and, if necessary, called upon others,� he explained.

Wasn�t there pressure to act, and act quickly? �That�s the situation created by others, like the Media. Why should we fall prey to that? After all, we were announcing what was like a death penalty as far as a cricket career was concerned.�

Morarka went on to say that the CBI report says nothing that the Chandrachud report hadn�t said. �Only the language was different � one was a judge�s language, the other a policeman�s,� he said.

The only aspect where he probably agreed with the general view was that the �punishments� meted out to Prabhakar and Sharma made little sense.

Well, Kamal Morarka is surely going to hog the headlines for some more time.


Bangalore, Dec. 7: 
A comfortable winner in her last four starts, the Darius Byramji -ward Native Tactics, with Aslam Kader in the saddle, is tipped to make it five-in-a-row when she takes on 10 rivals in the Dariya Daulat Trophy tomorrow. The challenge to the Blue Bird-Miss Oriental filly is expected to come from the lowly weighted Haynes Park.


1.30 pm: Top Socialite 1. Barassie 2. Acharya 3.

2 pm: Good Hope 1. Star Beauty 1. Antequera 3.

2.30 pm: Cape Fear 1. Lake Baikal 2. Predominate 3.

3 pm: Saturn Star 1. Tina�s Turn 2. Comedy Of Errors 3.

3.30 pm: Il Diablo 1. Altenburg 2. Fantastic Belle 3.

4 pm: Native Tactics 1. Haynes Park 2. Estocade 3.

4.30 pm: Gullane 1. Compliance 1. Fantasy Flight 3.

5 pm: Nobody�s Angel 1. Optical Illusion 2. Risk Me Now 3.

Day�s Best: Native Tactics

Double: Top Socialite & Good Hope    

Mumbai, Dec. 7: 
The Vinayak-trained Run For Glory posted an upset win in the Seth Ramnath Daga Trophy, Div. II, in Mumbai on Thursday. Bezan Chenoy�s Merry Lea won the upper division.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Beaugrand Plate 1,600m: (2-7-4) Capri Classic (S. Chinoy) 1; Queen Alicia 2; Hollywood Wildcat 3. Won by: 1-1/2; SH; (1-43). Tote: Win Rs 38; Place: 17; 62; 21; Quinella: 715; Tanala: 9,069. Fav: Golden Glitter (3).

2. Czardas Plate 2,000m: (8-1-5) Meaningful Mare (Bhati) 1; Princess Jo 2; Jonty�s Pal 3. Won by: 1; 1-1/4; (2-13). Tote: Win Rs 1,298; Place: 75; 15; 13; Quinella: 1,027; Tanala: 18,977. Fav: Princess Jo (1).

3. Blaze The Track Plate, Div-II 1,000m: (9-11-6) Star Trader (Mann) 1; Multi Millionaire 2; Tamure 3. Won by: SH; Hd; (1-3.2). Tote: Rs 53; Place: 16; 35; 10; Quinella: 333; Tanala: 1,767. Fav: Tamure (6).

4. Antonietta Plate 1,600m: (1-5-2) Altazano (Kader) 1; Equity 2; Bonjour Tristesse 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 2-3/4; (1-43). Tote: Win Rs 23; Place: 11; 23; 10; Quinella: 76; Tanala: 193. Fav: Altazano (1).

5. Seth Ramnath Daga Trophy, Div-II 1,200m: (6-4-5) Run For Glory (Prakash) 1; Cymbidium 2; Special Recruit 3. Won by: Hd; 4-3/4; (1-13.5). Tote: Win Rs 71; Place: 22; 14; 40; Quinella: 71; Tanala: 2,111. Fav: Cymbidium (4).

6. Blaze The Track Plate, Div-I 1,000m: (8-5-10) Hispaniola (Z. Sayyed) 1; Magic Boy 2; Authentic 3. Not run: Khushnaseeb (2). Won by: 3-3/4; SH; (1-3.3). Tote: Win Rs 316; Place: 85; 23; 32; Quinella: 2,340; Tanala: 94,630 (C.o). Fav: Dalsinghar (1).

7. Seth Ramnath Daga Trophy, Div-I 1,200m: (9-5-8) Merry Lea (Kamlesh) 1; Placid 2; Gay Minstrel 3. Won by: 3-1/4; Hd; (1.13.1). Tote: Win Rs 49; Place: 22; 17; 16; Quinella: 73; Tanala: 552. Fav: Placid (5).

8. Cascapedia Plate 1,600m: (12-5-3) Seychelles (McCullagh) 1; Reflecting 2; Perception 3. Won by: 6; 1-3/4; (1-40.8). Tote: Win Rs 15; Place: 10; 15; 56; Quinella: 23; Tanala: 319. Fav: Seychelles (12).

9. Emulation Plate 1,400m: (4-7-8) Northern Supreme (M. Narredu) 1; Countach 2; Tagamet 3. Won by: 4; 3/4; (1-28.8). Tote: Win Rs 39; Place: 15; 30; 91; Quinella: 204; Tanala: 15,840. Fav: Minneapolis (2).

Jackpot: Rs 2,97,366 (Carried over). Treble: (i) Rs 17,850; (ii) Rs 15,344; (iii) Rs 304.    


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