Form goes beyond destiny: Sourav
Police soft-pedal
Jeev at joint third spot
Twelve teams to participate
Bangalore Races/ Allocated may be hard to toss

Calcutta, June 29: 
A close look at some African elephants, rhinos and a clutch of zebras... Lions, too, in an enclosed section of a game park two hours from Bulawayo...

For Sourav Ganguly and his team, the 24-hour outing there soon after Wednesday’s tri-series victory over Zimbabwe, was pretty eventful.

Of course, it made the team relax — the back-in-form captain even more so. But much hard work remains to be done, collectively, and Sourav must build on the character-oozing 85 he scored that day.

Candid as ever, the Indian captain spoke to The Telegraph from the team hotel this morning, before leaving for a three-hour workout.

The following are excerpts

On why he wasn’t getting runs before Wednesday

To give one reason, it would be not spending enough time at the crease... Each time I took guard, I had this feeling that once past 10-12 runs, I would get a decent score. As it turned out, I didn’t even get to 10.

[In the two Tests and the first tri-series match, against Zimbabwe, Sourav had scores of 5, 9, 0 and 2. Overall, he lasted a mere 61 deliveries.]

On his thoughts as he took guard that afternoon

That once past 10-12, I would go on to a big score... It helped that the very first boundary (off Andy Blignaut) came off the middle of the bat. It got my confidence going, as it would have for any other batsman. Early on, that middle-of-the-bat feeling is important.

On just how tough was the run-drought period for him as an individual

Very tough... More so as I had been putting in longer hours at nets from day-I itself, in Zimbabwe, but the results... I was specially down after that second innings zero in the Harare Test..


On what exactly did he fall back on during that period

I thought about the many good innings I’ve played for India, the contributions made... Generally, going back in time to either that hundred on debut at Lord’s (in 1996) or... It helped.

On getting out of the slump

I would like to make two points and, well, both are related: Firstly, that I didn’t get runs in five Tests and a few one-dayers only and, secondly, the run-less phase didn’t last unusually long... I wish, though, I had got a hundred the other afternoon... There’s a difference between getting 85 or even 95 and getting a hundred.

[In 165 ODI appearances, Sourav has 16 hundreds.]

On Sachin Tendulkar’s encouraging “nothing-wrong-with-your-technique” line after the Test series

Actually, Sachin had been saying that for quite some time... It was comforting and didn’t allow doubts over my own batting to surface... In fact, all teammates were highly supportive. Perhaps, they realised everybody has to go through a bad patch. It was me till the other day; tomorrow onwards it could be somebody else. I suppose only Sir Donald Bradman was exempt from lows.

On the destiny element

(After a pause) An individual’s form, or the lack of it, goes beyond destiny... Like I’ve said, only Bradman didn’t have to suffer the lows... The sooner we cricketers accept that we will have our share of lows, the better. Eventually, of course, one does emerge stronger. That may not immediately be reflected but, in effect, each day of international cricket teaches something new.

On coach John Wright’s contribution

Suffice to say he’s the best thing to have happened to our cricket.

On his teammates’ spontaneous ovation when he touched 50 (37th in ODIs) the other afternoon

We back each other, enjoy each other’s success: Camaraderie is the strength of this team.

On whether, at any time during the lean run, he felt his position as captain (vis-a-vis teammates) was getting compromised

Not for a moment. As captain, I still told the boys what was expected of each one of them... They knew I had hit a rough patch; they also knew I would come out of it. Like so many other well-wishers, they had faith in me. I can say without fear of contradiction that I continued to have their complete respect. For a captain, yes, that’s a must.

On sections of the Media — both print and TV — having been gunning for him

Seen and commented upon from outside, cricket is a much easier game isn’t it? Frankly, I think too much was made of my failures... Also, it’s possible other things come into play when some people sit in judgement... I wouldn’t say I was very upset, but...

On whether, off the field, he would get to relax

I tried to... Caught up on some reading, for a change, and watched the TV. Unfortunately, no Hindi channels are aired and, so, I couldn’t hop from one to the other for songs...

On his much talked about Afro crew-cut

(Laughs) Just got it done... Nothing should be read into it and I intend reverting to the old style once the hair grows. No, I’m not superstitious about this new-look.

Finally, on crossing swords with the West Indies for the first time since the autumn of 1999, when India beat them 2-1 (in Toronto) under his captaincy and when he himself emerged Man of the Series

Certainly enhances confidence but, realistically, the past can only provide limited strength. What is gone is history, it’s the present which counts... Our current team is better (Sachin, for instance, wasn’t around in the last set of engagements) and the West Indies this time don’t have Brian Lara and Courtney Walsh. However, to win, one must still play good cricket. This, after all, is one constant.


Calcutta, June 29: 
The city Police today said that their earlier decision to not allow spectators access to galleries at the three enclosed Maidan grounds when the Big Three clubs begin their Super Divison campaign from July 10 has been put on hold.

Deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), Raj Kanojia, said after an inspection of the galleries today that a fresh decision will be taken after another examination on July 6. Super Division action begins Wednesday.

“Today’s was a preliminary inspection and a clearer picture is expected afterwards. However, the league is likely to start on time,” he said. A sizeable section of the galleries needs to be repaired, he observed. He was displeased with the condition of a section of the Mohammedan Sporting stands and issued some dismantling orders. A police camp will be set up there.

According to the PWD department — which carries out the repairs — spectators may be allowed in sections of the galleries when the Super Division starts.

As of now, work is in progress so that the members’ stands at East Bengal and Mohun Bagan can accommodate 75 per cent of their capacity. That figure is 60 per cent at the Mohammedan Sporting ground.

Debjit contract

Mohun Bagan today scrapped the three-year deal offered to Debjit Ghosh. The club secretary said the defender will be retained for this season like all other players. Debjit was given the contract after some confusion surrounding his registration with the club. The club secretary said criticism of the three-year contract in the media prompted today’s move.

Milan Samity win 3-0

Milan Samity trounced Victoria SC 3-0 in a first division group A match today. Barisha SC beat Taltala Institute 2-1, while Bally Protiva defeated Mohammedan AC 1-0.

Federation Cup

The AIFF will inspect the infrastrucure and other facilities in Chennai where the Federation Cup is supposed to held in August. According to an IFA official, if the July 16 inspection finds anything dissatisfying, the meet will be awarded to Bengal.

Meanwhile, ESPN has decided to record 24 Calcutta League matches this season which will be shown later, according to an IFA official.


Calcutta, June 29: 
Jeev Milkha Singh looked set for another good finish on the Japanese PGA Tour after tying for the third place at the halfway stage of the 120-million-yen (US $ 970,000) Tour Championship Iiyama Cup, the flagship event of the Japanese PGA Tour.

At the Hourai Country Club in Tochigi (Japan) today, the 29-year-old Indian shot a two-under 70 in his second round to aggregate eight-under 136 after 36 holes, according to reports reaching here. That put him in tied third place along with Kazuhiko Hosokawa, Katsumasa Miyamoto (both Japan) and Eduardo Herrera of Colombia.

Chin-Sheng Hsieh of Taiwan led the field at 12-under 132. Chin-Sheng added a five-under 67 to his overnight 65 and opened a one-stroke lead over the big-hitting Brendan Jones of Australia. Jones, who was joint leader after the first round, shot a four-under 68 to tally 11-under 133 after two days.


Calcutta, June 29: 
The Bengal Rugby Union-organised seven-a-side inter-city meet will be held at CC&FC over the weekend. Twelve teams, including nine from the city, will take part.

The teams will be divided in four groups with one from each reaching the Cup semi-finals. The second and third-placed teams will enter the Plate and Bowl semi-finals, respectively. All finals are on Sunday which will also see an exhibition event involving school children. Chennai, Manipur and Orissa are the outstation teams.

THE TEAMS: Bengal Tigers, Bengal Wildcats, Gremlins, Men in Blue, Chennai, Orissa, Cubs, Cops, Manipur, Sharks, Harlequins, Calcutta Classics.

TT trip to Doha

Four Indian table tennis players — Bhushan Thakur, Shubham Chowdhury, Sourav Chakraborty, Arunava Ganguly — will attend coaching camp beginning in Doha on July 2. The camp will be conducted by a Hungarian coach.

Bhaduri best

Shubhrajyoti Bhaduri has been named junior (115 points) Player of the Year by CAB.


Bangalore, June 29: 
Allocated, who badly needed his last outing, must be given another chance to come good against his eight rivals in the 1,400m Karnataka Sub-Area Cup, tomorrow. Hailing from Rashid Byramji’s yard with Ruzaan in the saddle, the Placerville-Arctic Theme gelding — last year’s winner of the colts classic — has improved by leaps and bound. The two Stars — Comet and Fame — may fight out for the minor placings.


2 pm: Sunspangled 1. Relic Hunter 2. Black Ocean 3.
2.30 pm: Furia Rossa 1. Ivory Wings 2. Emerald Forest 3.
3 pm: Seat of The Master 1. Omni Presence 2. Bacardi Star 3.
3.30 pm: Resist The Force 1. Al Habib 2. Grisogono 3.
4 pm: Allocated 1. Fame Star 2. Comet Star 3.
4.30 pm: Tal 1. Alicyclic 2. Tasman 3.
5 pm: Just Do It 1. Aryawun 2. Anandini 3.
5.30 pm: His Heirness 1. Carnival Crown 2. Imperial Force 3.
Day’s Best: Allocated.
Double: Furia Rossa & Resist The Force

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