Sourav likely to step in despite injury
Harbhajan has amazing skill: Andy
Top pro Kontouri in ‘demand’
East Bengal bag full points
Robin Singh set for coach’s role
Rajasthan pile up 437/7
Uncovered pitches for all matches
Team Asgar Ali win Pro-Am
Mumbai Racing/ Kazakh may lift Gold Cup
Bangalore Racing/ Milan wins

Mohali, March 9: 
Stuart Carlisle is trying to follow in the footsteps of Nasser Hussain. The England captain had proved that the Indians are vulnerable to pressure. They can plunge to the depths of despair from positions of strength in no time.

The Zimbabweans got their first taste of success in Faridabad when Douglas Marillier stamped his exclusive copyright over the ‘back scoop’ to romp to victory in the overs of death. The Indians seemed dazed and searching for ways to stop the mayhem.

The psychological edge gained from the opening one-dayer seems to have worked wonders for the visitors. “We’ve got back our self-belief,” was Carlisle’s opinion.

His counterpart, Sourav Ganguly is unwilling to allow them to make any further inroads. An injury near his right knee may have hindered his fitness but the Indian skipper is determined to play the second game tomorrow.

He knows only too well that with Sachin Tendulkar, Jawagal Srinath and Virender Sehwag missing, his absence will only boost the Zimbabweans’ confidence going into the day-night clash. They will then be ahead in the psychological warfare department even before the game starts.

Sourav, though, played it safe at the press conference this evening. “I’m a lot better today. There’s a bit of swelling but I should be okay. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow...”

The MRI report came through this morning. “It’s a natural ligament strain and a mild injury. We should manage with massage and ultrasound treatment.We will have to wait till tomorrow to see if he can play,” team physio Andrew Leipus told The Telegraph.

The Indian captain also played down fears that risking playing tomorrow’s game could aggravate matters, especially with the tight schedule ahead. “It’s not that bad to rule me out of the West Indies tour,” Sourav said.

What is keeping Sourav worried is a little stiffness in the area of the injury, which he had strapped during practice at the PCA Stadium. After a bit of stretching, he did bat at the nets for a while.

While batting should not be a major problem, it is the running around he has to do on the field that could prove troublesome.

If Sourav plays, the Faridabad XI is unlikely to see any other change. Shiv Sundar Das will get a chance only if Sourav makes himself unavailable.

The batting order will also see no alteration — Sourav opening with local boy Dinesh Mongia, V.V.S. Laxman at No.3, followed by Rahul Dravid if India bat first. In case of a chase, Dravid will fall back to No. 5 with Mohammed Kaif taking his place.

John Wright struck a positive note saying that the one-wicket loss was a thing of the past. “We’ve recovered from the setback. There’s been a post-mortem and we should go and win the next one,” said the coach.

Tackling Marillier’s slam-bang tactics will be a problem if he decides to do an encore but Sourav was hoping for better luck. “We can’t do much if he does it everyday.

“We’ve watched his videos in team meetings and worked a plan to sort it out. It can’t happen everyday. We’ve got over the Marillier effect. There are still four matches to go,” the skipper emphasised.

Chasing targets has been a problem with this side and it could be difficult under lights if a good start is not achieved. A few quick wickets and the panic button will be pressed automatically. Sourav knows it well and thus can’t risk sitting out.

The pitch had a fair sprinkling of grass till late evening and it remains to be seen how much of it is retained tomorrow. The even bounce apart, there will be some assistance to the pacers in the first session.

Marillier’s crucial knock is, however, not a guarantee for a promotion in the batting-order from his No. 10 spot. “We’re not going to rush into that. Maybe one place up…” said Carlisle.

The Zimbabwean captain sounded cautious. “We hope to continue in our winning mode. In Faridabad, individual brilliance won us the game but it is the team effort we are stressing on. We need to lift our performance by 30 to 40 per cent to stay on course,” Carlisle said.

But even a mediocre showing can achieve amazing results if a Marillier decides to do a Houdini.

TEAMS (likely)

INDIA: Sourav Ganguly/S.S. Das, Dinesh Mongia, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Kaif, Sanjay Bangar, Ajay Ratra, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan.

ZIMBABWE: Alistair Campbell, Craig Wishart, Travis Friend, Andy Flower, Stuart Carlisle, Grant Flower, Dion Ebrahim, Heath Streak, Douglas Marillier, Tatenda Taibu, Gary Brent.

Umpires: Aloke Bhattacharya, F. Tarapore

Match timing: From 2.30 pm on DD Sports


Mohali, March 9: 
Andy Flower’s insatiable appetite for runs has rarely been matched. After a lean patch in Sri Lanka recently, last year’s No. 1 batsman in Tests is back among runs. The 32-year-old lefthander is continuing with his demolition act in the ongoing series.

It has been an amazing success story for the former Zimbabwe skipper who has fought all odds to be regarded as one of the best batsmen in modern cricket. Andy spoke to The Telegraph last evening.

The following are excerpts

On the secret behind his success

Hard work plays an important part and it’s also a combination of the experience gained over the years. Every player has his own method of preparation. I’ve some of mine, which I work on and would like to keep to myself.

On the lack of infrastructure back home

Domestic cricket is not very strong in our country and the jump from there to the international level is huge. But that doesn’t apply to us who have been in the national squad for some time since we play all the year round. But for new and promising guys that is definitely a problem.

On how he assesses Muttiah Muralidharan, Saqlain Mushtaq and Harbhajan Singh

The three are very different bowlers. Murali is a big turner of the ball with the straighter his main weapon. Saqlain bowls fairly flat and has the surprise ball that goes away slightly. Harbhajan is a more conventional off-spinner. He has beautiful control over length and his main weapon is the drift he achieves. The other two bowlers cannot drift the ball away before it bounces. Shane Warne also gets the drift, but he is a different bowler. Harbhajan gets a lot of bounce because of his length and the top-spin he generates with every delivery. It’s an amazing skill and it’s nice to watch and admire.

On why, unlike other batsmen, he has achieved a lot of success against Murali

Murali has definitely not been a success against lefties. In Sri Lanka he got me out a couple of times in the last series but I, too, had my share of success. Obviously his great weapons against right handers have been getting lbws and knocking off the stumps. There has also been instances of close-in catches following inside edges into the pads.

This doesn’t happen to lefthanders. Then his straight ball is also not so dangerous to them.

On his best innings in the subcontinent

I got 232 not out versus India in Nagpur and 130 odd against Lanka. But my hundred in the first Test in New Delhi, 2000-01 came under very difficult conditions. The pitch was lively, Srinath bowled a good spell and the ball was reverse swinging at times. But with Kumble and Harbhajan missing from the side, it took a certain gloss off that innings.

On having benefitted from being relieved of wicketkeeping

I don’t think so to be honest. It helps you when standing behind stumps. You can watch exactly what the pitch is doing, where the bowlers are going wrong, watch other fine batsmen and learn from them. Being a wicketkeeper, you have the advantage of getting to know what’s happening — scanning batsmen, bowlers and pitches. It’s a little sad in that respect that I don’t see all that stuff from other positions on the field. The advantage is you don’t get tired physically and don’t need to concentrate that much. But given a choice, I would prefer to keep wickets.

On the expectations creating any extra pressure

It has not added any pressure. I’m just one batsman in the side and have got to do my job. Likewise, Heath Streak over the years has held the bowling together. He’s been and still is amazing. I don’t want to dwell on whether it’s an inspiration or a motivation. I just want to get on with the job.

On the goals he sets

I don’t set goals on a series-to-series basis or for a certain period. I keep it as simple as possible. I’ve a couple of personal goals but that’s nothing amazing.

On if at any point of time he thought of taking to any other profession

I started doing accountancy in a firm but then I wanted to do some travelling and so went to play cricket in England. That’s how I got into the game as a pro.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Realising, belatedly, that the national team must consistently be supremely fit to stay competitive, a section within the BCCI favours “approaching” Sri Lanka’s very highly rated physical trainer, Alex ‘Mr Cool’ Kontouri.

Kontouri, to say the least, is hot property.

According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, this section is “more than keen” that the dynamic trainer — who has played a huge role in re-casting Lankan cricket — be encouraged to cross the Palk Strait and drop anchor at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

The big ‘hitch’, though, is that Kontouri (an Australian passport-holder) isn’t immediately available: He is on contract with the BCCSL till next year’s World Cup.

Another possible ‘hitch’ is that the BCCSL itself may not take too kindly to ‘poaching’ of any kind. In any case, the Asian solidarity factor remains…

Kontouri, who got the job on coach Dav Whatmore’s recommendation, has been around with the Sanath Jayasuriyas for seven years.

However, if Kontouri actually switches colours, he won’t be assigned to our national team. What is being talked about (strictly informally) is stationing him at the Academy and granting a free hand to establish state-of-the-art training facilities in the five zonal centres.

Incidentally, Kontouri himself runs a hi-tech set-up in Colombo.

Assuming Kontouri does come over, it’s likely he will be designated chief physical trainer. The zonal trainers, obviously, will then report to him.

Kontouri will also be expected to liaise closely with the national team’s physio — currently Andrew Leipus — and the soon-to-be-appointed physical trainer.

The BCCI, one learns, has “more or less” decided to recruit a South African — in all probability Adrian Le Roux — and his first assignment could be the up-coming tour of the West Indies.

[The Sourav Ganguly-led team had a session with Le Roux, in Bloemfontein, during the recent South Africa tour.]

Despite appointing a professional physio for the past few years, the BCCI has largely been paying lip-service to the fitness aspect. And, now that players are getting exposed, the present (Jagmohan Dalmiya-headed) dispensation is understandably perturbed.

Moreover, given today’s requirements, merely having a travelling physio and physical trainer won’t do. An absolute priority is a professional structure, which will allow first-class cricketers and colts access to scientific training and monitoring.

With good reasons, Kontouri is being seen as the “perfect man” to get this structure in place.


Calcutta, March 9: 
East Bengal scored four minutes from the final whistle to bag full points from their BHA league first division group A tie against Khalsa Blues today.

Khalsa Blues, who did well to snatch a point from champions CESC Thursday, gave a good account today also but failed to get the ball into the East Bengal goal.

East Bengal also had their share of missed chances before finally scoring in the 66th minute. Chittaranjan Singh, who had a brace in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Howrah Union, pounced on a defensive lapse to hit the boards from close range.

Elsewhere, Sunil Kumar fired all three goals in CC&FC’s facile win over BSF (South Bengal). He opened his account a minute before half-time and added two more in the 45th and 60th.

SAI Training Centre and BSF (North Bengal) drew goalless. In group B, Rangers beat Jagrihi 4-1 while Calcutta Parsee drew 3-3 with Chotanagpur.

Indian volleyball squad

Tom Joseph will lead India in the Rashid Memorial volleyball tournament in Tehran from Monday through March 18.

THE SQUAD — Tom Joseph, Rajesh Silvarasu, Abhijit Bhattacharya, Joby Joseph, Ravikant Reddy, Avinash Yadav, Ashish Arora, Y. Subba Row, Raghubir Singh, Balwant Singh, Amir Singh.

Chief coach: Chander Singh.

Assistant coach: M.H. Kumara.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Though Robin Singh hasn’t quit cricket, he is one of three coaches who will be associated with the BCCI’s zonal Academy in the South.

The zonal academies will be an ‘arm’ of the Bangalore-located National Cricket Academy (NCA).

Robin, one understands, will oversee the fielding aspect, while Arshad Ayub and Woorkeri Raman will take care of the bowling and batting, respectively.

A formal announcement is expected within a day or two.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the Academy in East will have two coaches from Bengal (Syed Saba Karim and Barun Barman) and one from Orissa (Jimut Mohanty).

The head coach concept has been done away with at the NCA itself and, so, there will be none at the zonal level either.

Unless there’s a change, the list of coaches (and Talent Development Officers) for the up-coming semester is:



Rajesh Kamath, Lalchand Rajput, Balwinder Singh Sandhu. Talent Development Officer: Dilip Vengsarkar.



CENTRAL: T. Chatterjee, Kailash Ghattani, Shashikant Khandekar. TDO: Vinod Mathur.

EAST: Barun Barman, Syed Saba Karim, Jimut Mohanty. TDO: Russi Jeejeebhoy.

NORTH: Gursharan Singh, Yashpal Sharma, Sarkar Talwar. TDO: Surinder Khanna.

SOUTH: Arshad Ayub, Woorkeri Raman, Robin Singh. TDO: Bharath Reddy.

WEST: Abey Kuruvilla, Dinesh Nanavati, Chandrakant Pandit. TDO: Nari Contractor.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Sayan Dey’s 178 powered Rajasthan to 437 for seven on Day I of their CAB League championship play-off match against Netaji Subhas Institute (NSI). Afzal Siddiqui (94) and Nilasish Ghosh (53) chipped in with useful contributions.

In the relegation play-off final, Sporting Union were 11 without loss after Calcutta Rangers had scored 260.


Championship play-off

Rajasthan 437/7 (Sayan Dey 178, Afzal Siddiqui 94, Nilasish Ghosh 53, Samim Modi 43) vs NSI.

Barisha 176 (Sanjay Nag 49; Sourav Sarkar 4/40, Arindam Chakraborty 3/36, Rupak Banerjee 3/46). Shyambazar 79/1 (Amitava Roy 34 batting).

Relegation play-off final

Calcutta Rangers 260 (Kaushik Mukherjee 62; Sandip Bhattacharya 4/51). Sporting Union 11/0.

South Point in final

South Point entered the CAB under-19 school championship final with a 114-run win over Naktala HS today.

BRIEF SCORES: South Point 220/9 (Sambit Dey 105). Naktala HS 106 (Subrata Chakraborty 43; Avishek Chakraborty 3/10). South Point won by 114 runs.

Bank cricket

United Bank of India (UBI) beat Central Bank by 57 runs in the opening match of the East Zone inter-bank meet in Puri. According to information received here, UBI made 183. Central Bank were bowled out for 126 with Utpal Chatterjee taking three for 26.


Calcutta, March 9: 
All Duleep Trophy matches this season will be played on uncovered pitches. This was one of the decisions taken at BCCI’s technical committee meeting today.

The tournament kicks off with North Zone hosting South in Faridabad and West facing Central in Rajkot simultaneously from Tuesday to Friday.

“Pitches at different venues will remain uncovered before and during the matches,” BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told newsmen after the meeting. “Play will start at 10 am instead of the normal 9.30.”

This experimental system is designed to serve a dual purpose — give bowlers more helpful conditions than they normally come across in the domestic circuit and prepare batsmen for the tougher overseas assignments.

The technical committee, which met under the chairmanship of Sunil Gavaskar, also discussed the proposed new structure in Ranji Trophy. Though the two-tier system has been agreed to in principle, some members of the committee are learnt to be in favour of a rethink.

The BCCI also announced the name of the coach to accompany the India A team to South Africa later this month — Yashpal Sharma.

Squad on Wednesday

Besides picking the XIV for the last three one-dayers, in Kochi on Wednesday, the national selectors will choose the squad for the first half (Test series) of the forthcoming tour to the West Indies.


Calcutta, March 9: 
City golfer Asgar Ali and his team won the DHL Invitational Corporate Challenge, the Pro-Am event, which ended the inaugural DHL Open at the par-70 Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC), according to information received here today.

Asgar’s team, comprising Dr. N.N. Dattar, Sameet Sanghrajka and Atul Dhir, tallied 15-under 125 to beat the team of Yusuf Ali (professional) and Ravi Sanghrajka, Lalit Goenka and B. Uday Kumar (amateurs) who aggregated 12-under 128.


Mumbai, March 9: 
Well in at the weights, the Vinayak-trained Kazakh is fancied to win the 2,400m Bombay Dyeing C. N. Wadia Gold Cup at the Mumbai races on Sunday. Malesh Narredu partners the Razeen- London Cries four-year-old.


2 pm: Austral 1. Kraft 2. Star Magic 3.

2.30 pm: Rhythm Divine 1. Triumphant 2. Stardotcom 3.

3 pm: On The Ridge 1. Sheer Silver 2. Your The Lady 3.

3.30 pm: Magical Beauty 1. Majestic Crown 2. Newyearseve 3.

4.15 pm: Eau de Vie 1. Resist 2. Twist Afleet 2.

5 pm: Kazakh 1. Sedona 2. Zephyr Bay 3.

5.30 pm: Royalist 1. Ciraja 2. Rapacious 3.

6 pm: Big Bang 1. Triple Cheer 2. Nothing Better.3.

Day’s Best: Austral

Double: On The Ridge & Kazakh.


Bangalore, March 9: 
Trained by Z. Darashah and ridden by K. P. Appu, Milan cantered home with the 1,400m Karnataka Trophy, the main event at the Bangalore races on Saturday.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. March Plate, Div-II 1,200m: (8-2-4) So Supreme (Appu) 1; Nationalistic 2; Dr. Nefarious 3. Not run: Outsmart (6). Won by: 2-1/2; 9-1/4; (1-16.1). Tote: Win Rs 18; Place: 10; 14; 32; Quinella: 22; Tanala: 175. Fav: So Supreme (8).

2. Gokarna Plate 1,400m: (2-5-7) Masti (B. Krishnan) 1; I Me And Mine 2; Omni Presence 3. Won by: 1/2; 2-3/4; (1-30.1). Tote: Win Rs 264; Place: 40; 12; 25; Quinella: 189; Tanala: 5,556. Fav: I Me And Mine (5).

3. Arundhati Cup 1,200m: (6-8-7) Extreme Contact (Ramesh) 1; Grisogono 2; Pride Estates 3. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 13; 17; 22; Quinella: 35; Tanala: 318. Fav: Extreme Contact (6).

4. Karnataka Trophy 1,400m: (1-2-6) Milan (Appu) 1; Allespange 2; Slovania 3. Won by: 6; 5; (1-27.3). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 13; 17; Quinella: 24; Tanala: 63. Fav: Milan (1).

5. Thirthahalli Plate 1,600m: (3-4-6) Supermax (Shroff) 1; Dancing Phantom 2; Polar Charge 3. Won by: 1; 1/2; (1-42.4). Tote: Win Rs 37; Place: 16; 14; 22; Quinella: 39; Tanala: 231. Fav: Dancing Phantom (4).

6. N. E. Raymond Memorial Plate 1,400m: (2-3-1) Tresorie (Shroff) 1; Alassio 2; Barassie 3. Won by: 3/4; 2-1/4; (1-28.7). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 12; 33; 34; Quinella: 72; Tanala: 506. Fav: Tresorie (2).

7. March Plate, Div-I 1,200m: (5-6-1) Castle Park (Shroff) 1; Red Mamma 2; Sunraj 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 3/4; (1-14.6). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 12; 12; 20; Quinella: 23; Tanala: 172. Fav: Castle Park (5).

Jackpot: Rs 352; (C) Rs 49.

Treble: (i) Rs 952; (ii) Rs 124.


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