One isn�t sure exactly how many have been bowled over by a portal�s catchy �n-o, y-e-s, n-o� television promo, but the Indian cricketers at least have been impressed.
The focus is a run out and, at the Nehru Stadium today, the Indians did two better: Recording three self run outs. That, too, against world champions Australia. Even one run out, featuring a top gun, is bad. It�s an invitation for disaster when three specialist batsmen exit that way in succession.
V. V. S.Laxman figured in two (Rahul Dravid�s and his own), while Hemang Badani featured in the Laxman and debutant Dinesh Mongia run outs. Laxman has been in terrific form, yes, but he also was a party to Sachin Tendulkar�s exit in similar fashion in Bangalore.
For the Indians, then, it was a mixed first session (in match No.2 of the five-game Pepsi series) and, to rub it in, MoM Mark Waugh and Matthew Hayden then posted 143 for the first-wicket to ensure the teams reach Indore 1-1.
Mark registered his 18th hundred and it couldn�t have been better timed. In fact, he improved on his own 126 (1996 World Cup), the previous highest by an Australian in ODIs against India. Mark�s unbeaten 133 (off only 138 balls) even turned Badani�s maiden hundred into an absolute non-event.
Of course, the debate over whether third umpire C. R. Mohite should have ruled against Mark, in a contentious run out which saw Darren Lehmann make the smart move of straightaway heading for the dressing room, will continue. It�s unlikely, however, the result would have been altered.
Mark himself acknowledged he got the �benefit of the doubt in a touch-and-go situation,� as neither the field umpires nor Mohite was convinced he (as the non-striker) had actually crossed Lehmann when substitute Yuvraj Singh�s throw found no tenant at the striker�s end.
Yet, the second wicket fell as late as 163 (30th over) and, by then, the Indian bowling was back to its stingless worst. For all the help from the wicket, nobody quite knew where to pitch. Going by this performance, expecting a turnaround of the Calcutta or Chennai (or even Bangalore) kind, would have hoping for too much.
�We fielded reasonably well, bowled better than in the first match and, most important, batted excellently. I think our batsmen were out to prove a point,� observed captain Steve Waugh, relieved that the Indians themselves helped remove his own misgivings after losing a toss he wanted to win.
Sourav Ganguly was pretty downcast, affected as much by the defeat as the extension of his unhappy run: The captain had managed four when he inside-edged Glenn McGrath.
�Well, yes, we should have got 20-30 more. The run outs didn�t help and, in any case, the bowlers didn�t land the ball where it ought to have been pitched,� Sourav remarked.
A tight finish would, to an extent, have been acceptable. But not only did India lose big (eight wickets and a good many overs remaining), the basics were repeatedly muffed. Generally, John Wright gives little away. This evening, the coach�s body language suggested he was very annoyed.
To make matters worse, Dravid took a blow on his right shin and, till the team left for the flight to Mumbai, the swelling hadn�t subsided. Whether or not Dravid will be fit for Saturday can only be known tomorrow, before the team�s departure for Indore.
Despite best use of the wicket (a 300-type, to start with), the Indian innings saw just two partnerships of substance: 93 for the fourth between Laxman and Badani and a blistering 59 for the seventh between Badani and Sunil Joshi (preferred over Ajit Agarkar).
But for the run outs (and Sachin�s impetuosity), it could all have been vastly different. Sachin pulled, hooked and drove with a vengeance which does come naturally to him. And, again, he picked on McGrath, his tormentor in Australia a little over a year ago.
As it turned out, McGrath had the proverbial last laugh as he induced Sachin (with a slower one) to send the ball down Lehmann�s throat.
For the 30,000-odd who packed the Stadium, that was the disappointment of the season. Specifically, it will now be another centre which will host one-day cricket�s first (individual) 10,000th run. After today, Sachin is 34 short.
So, first went the captain and, not much later, Sachin. Then, it was
Laxman�s turn to have Dravid run out. It was a pathetic sight. Later, Laxman himself went the same way, but not before producing a combative and career-best 51.
Badani, at the other end, was positive from the start and his shot-selection made for excellent viewing. He was lucky that Michael Bevan dropped him, off Andrew Symonds (one of three changes in the Australian XI), soon after fifty but, then, this committed youngster deserved the let-off.
Sadly, instead of drawing inspiration from Badani, who collected most of his runs in the V, debutant Dinesh was clueless about the basics and ran himself out when all he had to do was head for the non-striker�s end.
Last evening, Sourav told The Telegraph the team would be prepared for a �hit-back� from Australia. Well, this morning, we kept bashing ourselves up.
Vijay Dahiya failed to do a Bangalore repeat and it was left to Badani and Joshi to give a semblance of competitiveness to the Indian innings. Both did so with panache and the Dineshs would have been cursing having missed out on a potential party.
After all, with no Shane Warne (�not dropped, but rested on grounds of rotation,� being the official explanation), nobody had to fear the unexpected turn and bounce. Assuming, that is, Warne could have extracted both.
Moreover, but for Damien Fleming�s second spell (4-0-13-1) and Symonds� first (9-0-53-0), the Indians weren�t ever �shackled�.
Once Joshi left, Zaheer Khan put together another cameo but, frankly, Badani ought to have played out the 50 overs instead of getting carried away as soon as he got to hundred. Nathan Bracken didn�t deserve this wicket.
Seven balls had remained and a batsman in super touch would have milked each of those. Perhaps, there�s a lesson from Mark�s approach: If you can yourself do the job, never even think of leaving it for others.
Who knows, a target of 265 or thereabouts would have put Australia under far greater pressure and...
Set an asking rate of 4.98, the Australians only had to be sensible to give themselves a handsome chance of levelling the series. Jawagal Srinath did have a fantastic first spell but, thereafter, though Sachin got both turn and bounce he was inconsistent with the length and, really, none of the others looked like stopping Mark.
Not even Harbhajan �Turbanator� Singh.
Mark began the tour with three one-day hundreds this year (all in the Carlton and United Series) and, for the umpteenth time, showed what an ideal mix of elegance and aggression is. He has been under pressure, for the past few months specially, but didn�t allow that to show this afternoon.
And, all this, after having a tough day on the field. Mark was even hit by a lofted Hayden drive and had to take pain-killers. It didn�t affect his game. Nor was he flusterred by the run out incident and the brief hold-up when missiles were hurled at Joshi.
To begin with, Mark had an able ally in Hayden � who, clearly, is immune to the law of averages � and, then, excellent company in the form of �Mr Consistent� Bevan. The latter, however, got a repreive (fairly early) courtesy Dahiya. Towards the end, it was Srinath�s turn to drop Mark.
Such poor cricket can only produce a poor result.
Incidentally, though they weren�t pushed to doing so, the Australians would surely have drawn inspiration from the sculpted figure of Sir Donald Bradman. More so, as it took shape during play itself, the brilliant effort of one of the more recognised sculptors � Nikhil Phadke � around here.
Australia�s rather reticent man of the moment spoke exclusively to his compatriots in the print media and The Telegraph, by the Le Meridien poolside, last evening. The session lasted over half-an-hour.
Following are excerpts
On whether, over the years, he consciously changed his style to suit one-day cricket
My game has seen a natural progression. The last four years, certainly, have seen some success come my way and, rather than consciously doing anything, my game has progressed naturally. It�s in this period that I adopted an aggressive attitude in the four-day (Shield) games and that helped my one-day batting, too. I was, I confess, a limited batsman when I made my big-league debut. Also, for much of my early years, I batted with David Boon and Mark Taylor � similar style players, really.
On overcoming his own limitations as a batsman
Today, I�m definitely a better all-round-the-wicket player. When I started, for instance, I was very limited off the pads. Now that�s an area I collect many runs from. Also, I neither cut nor pulled the way I do today. Actually, wouldn�t sweep either, till (Bobby) Simpson made me work hard at it. Generally speaking, I was pretty one-dimensional.
On getting into this one-day series just days after the Tests
Well, you�ve got to change the tempo a bit. I remember going �ahead� of myself in the first couple of overs in Bangalore, and had to pull myself back and tell myself I�ve got to spend time at the wicket. I mean, I�d begun to just think of the tempo instead of concentrating on batting. It�s important, of course, to visualise the opposition�s gameplan and play to your strengths.
On having �broken� one of the most feared one-day (opening) combinations � Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh
It�s a huge signal from the tour selectors. At the same time, it�s possible they may bring about a truly rotational system (in this series), with not just the fringe players being rotated. It was great being selected in the first place and, then, absolutely terrific being asked to stay on for the ODIs. (Smiles) I�ve had that euphoric feeling, yes.
On actually having got limited opportunities from 1993-94 till this season
It helped enormously that I could fall back on and draw inspiration from a great state team � Queensland. I remember being drained after that 1996-97 series against South Africa, where I got a 40-odd to begin with, but... Mentally, I began to feel perhaps I myself wasn�t ready for big scores. Indeed, that was a frustrating time. Looking back, what happened is that I probably didn�t (then) enjoy batting and, really, it�s the enjoyment which makes a huge difference. To be successful, keep it simple: Enjoy your vocation.
On his County experience
I played for Hampshire (1997) and captained Northants (1999 and 2000). At Hants, specially, I learnt much from Malcolm Marshall. Of course, I was disappointed at being ignored for the Ashes that year but, then, on the flip-side I got the opportunity to be with Hampshire. At Northants, as captain, I got to work with a couple of young spinners and the fact that we did well gave me a taste of the winning culture. But, yes, the first few months (as captain) were challenging as the players there didn�t know me from a bar of soap.
On whether he spoke to mentor-idol Allan Border before the Chennai Test (and his maiden double century)
Not before, but at the end of Day-I, by when I had reached my century. Felt real nice... Interacting with Boon, too, who was there in connection with the Tied Test celebrations. Many years ago, I remember Border telling us openers: �Remember guys, you comprise the engine-room of Australian cricket.� I�ve never forgotten that.
On having blossomed under Steve Waugh
Steve has always had strong faith in my abilities. I don�t know why, but he has always backed me. (After a pause) Perhaps, Steve liked the neutral side of my character � neither going overboard nor ever feeling too low. If I may add, Steve himself has had a very positive impact on my career. My relationship with Mark (Taylor)? Well, it had to be different as both of us are left-handed and both opened. As Mark was then the captain, he had to be in the side. I�m not saying this as a criticism (of anybody), yet that�s how the facts were. I accepted the situation and resolved that whenever opportunities came my way, I would be the best player I possibly could.
On Steve as captain
The great thing, you know, is that Steve becomes almost obsolete in the system as the guys are given opportunities to put their best foot forward and to develop themselves.
On whether he has, himself, thought about the captaincy
(Grins) I�m convinced I can be a big influence, on any side, even without being the captain.
On whether he admires/envies one contemporary batsman more than the others
Steve, again. He�s not just a great cricketer, but an ambassador for the sport. The qualities he shows, even when the chips are down, are admirable. Steve�s the type to always be heard; to always get respect.
On the biggest influence in his formative years
Gary, my brother. We grew up in the Bush (region), played together. He did play representative cricket and there was a time I aspired to be half the cricketer he was.
On whether being sportsmen in the limelight, cricketers have an (off-the-field) obligation towards society
Not an obligation, but cricketers have the potential to have a positive impact on people at large. Most of the guys, in any case, are involved with some charity or the other and here, too, the best example is Steve.
On his interests outside cricket
(Smiles again) I�m passionate about my faith and I�m passionate about fishing. In fact, passionate about water sport. Otherwise, I�m an average guy.
On what this Indian trip has taught him
To respect Indian cricket, and the opposition, for one. Till we came here, we would just be steamrolling teams. You could say it�s been a humbling experience. Besides, as always, every tour is an education.
On whether he has a hero outside cricket
People in India probably won�t know him, but it�s Trevor Hendy, a world champion life-saver. He�s obviously a great athlete. Besides, there�s that touch of spirituality about him.
Finally, whether he is scared of the law of averages
(Grins again) But I never look at the scoreboard, I�m never influenced by the number of runs. Actually, if you asked me about my first-class centuries, I wouldn�t be able to put a figure. Once I�ve taken guard, I only look to concentrate on each ball. That�s me.
However, Mark didn�t rate his unbeaten 133 at the Nehru Stadium as his �finest� ODI-effort. �Definitely one of my most important ones, but not the best. I didn�t have a meaningful contribution in Bangalore (first match) and, so, was determined to be patient and get the team off to a good start,� he said.
Mark added: �The wicket was on the slower side, with a bit of dual bounce, but it wasn�t tough once you were set. The priority, initially, was to see off the first five-six overs. After that, well, to pick the gaps and put pressure on the fielders.�
The strategy, of course, paid rich dividends. But Mark remarked he would like �a few more runs� in Test cricket.
That�s something for the future, but Indian captain Sourav Ganguly topped the list of those praising Mark�s hundred here: �He batted beautifully � slamming the door on us.�
Over, now, to Australian captain Steve Waugh and Indian coach John Wright...
STEVE WAUGH: We were more relaxed than last Sunday (in Bangalore). The noise then had been too much. Here, we could just concentrate on the job at hand. We did well in all departments, though the batsmen were probably out to prove a point. They let the bowlers down, in the Test series, and so... Frankly, we should have won that evening (in Bangalore)... I think Nathan Bracken bowled well in his first appearance on tour and Damien Fleming, specially, was tight.
Was Shane Warne dropped? No, we have this policy of rotating players and we do intend to try out a few more things... In any case, we weren�t down (psychologically), but taking to Indore 1-1 is far better than trailing.
JOHN WRIGHT: Yes, I�ll be talking to V.V.S. Laxman (about the run outs). I�ll be throwing some questions and that should produce (helpful) answers. As coach, I can only try to sharpen the basics. Today, forgetting them � calling sensibly, eye-to-eye contact, bowling stump-to-stump � is what did us in.
Should Sachin Tendulkar be aiming to stay longer that he did this morning? In principle, if one of the first three-four get set, then the batsman in question must look to stay till the very end... I�m happy for Hemang Badani. In fact, getting a hundred against the world champions should do his confidence a world of good. The team�s agenda? Play better.
East Bengal maintain their lead on top of the National League table, even after suffering a jolt as bottom-placed JCT held them to a 2-2 draw at the Salt Lake Stadium today.
East Bengal went into the lead in the 11th minute, when Dipendu Biswas slotted the ball in from a spot kick. Into the second half, JCT scored twice, one minute from each other as substitute Sameer and Sukhjit Singh put the visitors ahead in the game. Omolaja Olalekan then squared the score in the 66th.
East Bengal now have 35 points from 16 matches and are followed by rivals Mohun Bagan on 31. JCT have just 11 from the same number of outings.
The Calcutta giants began their day totally on the offensive, as if they were on a mission to demolish the weaker opposition. Into the 2nd minute, Isiaka Awoyemi sent in a stinging right-footer from 22 yards which the JCT goalkeeper somehow managed to fist out. The ball fell to a rightly positioned Omolaja, but before the Nigerian could react, a defender had cleared it for a corner.
The exact sequence happened 15 minutes later, this time after the goalkeeper had saved Isiaka�s shot, the ball fell to Dipendu in front of an open goal. The striker shot right into the keeper�s hands.
After they had been denied a penalty when Ranjit Singh handled the ball inside the box, East Bengal won one as Dipendu was tripped by Jaswinder Singh in front of the goal. Dipendu, having missed one in his last game against Air India, very bravely decided to take this one and did not repeat his mistake.
East Bengal then went into a groove which could only be summed up as a thought of the match already won.
Having lost three key defenders, Sur Kumar Singh, Dipak Mondal and Ratan Singh to the Pre-World Cup camp and Chandan Das to injury, East Bengal showed vulnerability in both defence and midfield. The two goals that JCT scored in the second half were due to a lapse in the same.
In the 57th minute, Sameer took a left-footed shot at goal from an innocuous-looking pass from Sukhjit Singh. The ball was inside the net as the defence was caught napping. The hapless defence with an unfit Jackson Egygpong had barely recovered when an unchallenged Sukhjit headed in from close after having been fed on a Jaspreet Singh cross from the left.
East Bengal had totally encountered the unexpected. From being sure of a win, they were now fighting to level the score. They, though, didn�t take long to regroup themselves.
After some good moves, originating mainly from the skills of the diminutive Dipankar Roy, the equaliser did come East Bengal�s way. Dipankar switched flanks with the ball, cutting right through the JCT defence. He crossed the ball to Sreekanta Dutta just outside the box, who chested it down to Omolaja, lurking beside him. The Nigerian made no mistake in the immaculate shot he took, beating the goalkeeper all ends up.East Bengal then made a somewhat desperate effort to win the match, but the winner just wasn�t there. A Bijen Singh shot hit the crossbar and Dipankar shot into goalkeeper Arvind Kumar�s hands in the dying minutes.
East Bengal coach Manoranjan Bhattacharjee was a disappointed man. �It�s all because overconfidence creeped into the boys after the early goal. I never expected that JCT would score two against us. It was totally unexpected,� he said after the match.
TEAMSEAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee; Falguni Dutta, Suley Musah, Jackson Egygpong, Anit Ghosh; Zaheer Abbas (Sreekanta Dutta, 62nd), Isiaka Awoyemi, Omolaja Olalekan, Dipankar Roy; Dipendu Biswas (Tushar Rakshit, 41st, Sheik Sanjib, 77th), Bijen Singh.
JCT: Arvind Kumar; Tarsem Lal, Balkar Singh, Ranjit Singh, Daljit Singh; Jaswinder Singh (Sameer, 44th), Harinder Singh, Ram Pal (J. Randhawa, 90th), Jaswant Singh (Jaspreet Singh, 56th);0 Hardeep Gill, Sukhjit Singh.
Referee: Gokuldas Nagvenkar
Eastern Railway SA eked out a convincing 3-1 win over CC&FC in another second-round clash today. Parvez scored off a penalty corner, Petrus Ekka from a penalty stroke and Sheik Siraj a field goal to make up the railwaymen�s tally. CC&FC were given a flicker of hope midway through the game by a Shamser Singh strike.
Also moving to the next stage were BSF (North Bengal) who edged out BNR 3-2 in a penalty shootout after 70 minutes of regulation time failed to produce a goal at the CC&FC. Peter Kandurna, W. Baxla and S. Kerketta were the successful marksmen for the army team, while Linus Tirkey and Nageswar converted the strokes for BNR.
The story of the day, though, was CESC�s dream recovery. Having done well to stay in touch with the fast-paced Ranchi outfit for most of the first session, the city team conceded a goal minutes before the halfway mark. Yakub Nag drove in the ball following a scramble for possession in the CESC striking zone.
Looking a more organised side after the changeover, AG Ranchi doubled their lead in the 13th minute. Manbahal Herenz, who threatened the CESC defence time and again with his swift forays, capped a three-man move with a blinding drive.
Herenz could have made it 3-0 soon after, had CESC custodian Richard Fanthom not stretched to his right and palmed away a stiff shot.
Despite the Ranchi dominance, CESC never went into a shell and kept on looking for the counter-attacks. One such move opened the floodgates at the other end of the field.
Gurjit Singh relayed the ball to Christopher Thomas who sprinted into the D only to be blocked by the Ranchi �keeper. Albert Tete scooped the resultant penalty stroke high into the goal.
Within a minute, Thomas set up goal No. 2 for CESC. A 20-yard pass found its destination and Anil Ekka did justice to it with a rasping first-timer from the top of the striking zone.
The match seemed headed to the tie-break, but CESC weren�t done yet. Thomas� skillful scheming did the damage again, Sunil Soren making good use of a defence-splitting through this time. The shell-shocked men from Ranchi didn�t have the energy to attempt an equaliser in the remaining time.
Having piled up 342 for nine on Day I, Wari stopped Shyambazar 97 runs short of their total. Parimal Ghosh top-scored with 77, while Kamalesh Singha Rajput did the maximum damage with four for 71.
BRIEF SCORES: Wari 342/9 (A. Bose 132, S. Mukherjee 101). Shyambazar 245 (P. Ghosh 77, A. Roy 40; K. Rajput 4/71). Wari won by 97 runs.
Bengal beat MalaysiaBengal women beat the visiting Malaysian football team 2-0 in the second of their five encounters in Malda today. According to information received here, both goals were scored in the first half.
In the opening game, Bengal had trounced the visitors 3-0 in Siliguri. The next match is scheduled for Friday in Basirhat.
BHA LeagueIn a BHA first division group B match, Belgachia United beat Police AC 1-0. Samrat Adhikary netted the winner.
Read as: Horse number, last four runs, horse name, trainer, jockey, weight & draw:
1st Race at 1.45 p.m.
Colorado Claro Handicap 1,200m (Cl IV�Rated 22-50)� Indian jockeys only
1 2031 Russian Czar [R. Alford] Rutherford A. 60.5 3
1. Flamebird (4) 2. Adeline (7) 3. Russian Czar (1)
2nd Race at 2.25 p.m.
Pennant Handicap 1,200m (Cl III, Rt. 44-72) � Indian jockeys only
1 3004 Amarante [Vijay] C. Alford 60.0 6
1. Starina (8) 2. Raaz (9) 3. Super Smile (11)
3rd Race at 3.00p.m.
Cavalry Cup 1,400m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) � Indian jockeys only
1 2100 Blessed Spirit [Daniel] A. P. Singh 61.0 5
1. Ghunghat (9) 2. Appyness (7) 3. Remember Me (5)
4th Race at 3.35 p.m.
R. W. I. T. C. Cup 1,400m (Cl I�Rt. 88 over)
1 0131 Stately Don [Daniel] Gajender S. 65.5 7
1. Gold Buck (8) 2. Alyssum (3) 3. Clarice Cliff (6)
5th Race at 4.10p.m.
Zara Shah Cup 1,100m (Cl II�Rt.66-94)
1 0004 Mystic Hill [Goenka] Amjad K. 60.0 6
1. Alsheim (2) 2. Almond Rock (13) 3. Staffordshire (3)
6th Race at 4.45 p.m.
Leprechaun Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, 3-y-o only�Rt. 00-28)
1 ---- Acklins [Vijay] Md Amil 60.0 2
1. Rescue Act (12) 2. Ancheta (7) 3. Calamint (8)
Day�s Best: Gold Buck
Outer sand track
1,400m: Silver Toy (Khalander) in 1-39s; (400m) 28s. Maintrains form.
1,200m: Wandering Warrior (Khalander) in 1-21s; (400m) 28s. Fit. Giorgio (M. Reuben) in 1-24s; (400m) 27s.
800m: Pure Passion (P. Alford) and Royal Ruler (Rutherfor) in 59s; (400m) 30s. Level. Reactor (Shanker) in 57s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Jayaashva (Kujur) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Fit.
800m: Rheinheart (Shanker) in 52s; (400m) 27s. Moved well. Lovely Prospect (A. Imran) in 54s; (400m) 24s. Easy. Red Trident (K. Gurang) in 53s; (400m) 26s. Good. Ballard Lady (Som S.) in 1-1s; (400m) 32s. Easy.